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South Australian author and activist, Ki Meekins (b.1965), was in children’s homes and foster care as a child. 

Both of Ki’s parents were in orphanages and most of their eleven children were removed by the authorities in South Australia. Ki was first taken into care at six months old and longed to be placed in a foster home. In his first foster home he was beaten, his mother denigrated, and he was treated like a second-class citizen. 

Ki Meekins describes his brutal experiences of sexual abuse while in foster care and children’s homes, and his lengthy pursuit of justice, in his book Red Tape Rape (2008). 

At the age of ten Ki was raped by a foster carer then threatened with retribution from authorities for reporting it. He was regularly abused by paedophiles who took him on weekend outings while placed in children’s homes.  

At the age of thirteen Ki was kidnapped and held hostage in Queensland by a well-known TV personality, Ric Marshall. He was regularly drugged and sexually abused during the three-month ordeal. The South Australian police were aware of the crime but did not take sufficient action to protect Ki.  

After escaping this sex trafficking Ki ran away to Sydney and ended up as a child prostitute in Kings Cross. He became determined to hold authorities accountable and to help end the sexual exploitation of children in government care.  

Others came forward after Ki made his story public. Ric Marshall was eventually convicted of child abuse and received a home detention order due to having Parkinson’s disease and dementia. 

Ki Meekins successfully challenged the South Australian Government in a seven-year court battle over the abuse he suffered in state ‘care’. His story was one of those which impelled the Rann Labor Government to convene the Mullighan Inquiry (2004-2008), an inquiry into the sexual abuse of South Australian children in state care.

Ki described giving testimony for the Inquiry as “a very harrowing, very dark and a very tormented time just for me personally to actually relive my story over and over again,” (7:30 Report, 2008).  

The South Australian Parliament accepted fifty-three recommendations resulting from the Inquiry and offered a formal apology to former children abused while in state ‘care’. Ki expressed that while capped compensation payments can never make up for the harm suffered, 

At least we’ve got the Government apologising. At least we’ve got them now admitting something that for years and years and years has been innuendo (ABC News, 2008). 

Two years after the apology a memorial sculpture was erected in Peace Park, Adelaide. The inscription reads:  

In honour of children who suffered abuse in institutional and out of home care. We have grown though awareness and unity. We celebrate our courage, strength and resilience. We are no longer forgotten. Dedicated to the future protection and nurturing of all children. 17 June 2010 (Find and Connect, 2016).


“Children in State Care Commission of Inquiry (2004-2008).” Find & Connect, 2022. 

“Formal sorry to child abuse victims”. ABC News, 17 June, 2008. 

Karen, George. “The South Australian Apology- eight years on...” Find and Connect, 2016. 

Meekins, Ki. “Red Tape Rape: Ki Meekins Story.” Ki Meekins Website. 

O’Brien, Kerry.  “SA govt apologises to abuse victims”. 7:30 report, 17 Jun 2008. 

Image available here.