One Man’s Story – How my Men’s Table helped me.


Hi, I’m Garry, a 76 year-old retired career banker, retired finance broker, retired chauffeur driver, retired performing musician, and now retired.

My northern Euro upbringing was in a strict, patriarchal household of seven siblings, where you learnt to keep quiet, don’t trust anyone, and look out for Dad’s left hook.

During the Second World War, occupying forces caused my siblings to be dispersed throughout the countryside for safety reasons, with mum remaining in the city due to adult travel restrictions. Dad had escaped the forced marches of male citizenry out of his country to become a member of the underground. So regular house checks by armed squads, searching for any missed males, were Mum’s lot.

After the war we immigrated to Australia in 1953 with me, the post war baby aged three, to help with the labour shortage and thereby start a new life. My mother was war affected and depressed, my siblings traumatised and dysfunctional in the ways of a family.

We lived in the northern suburbs in housing trust accommodation and had home delivered milk, bread and groceries. As a four year-old I was treated to a fresh finger bun from the horse drawn baker’s van and a ride in the cart to the street corner. The grocer would take me for a ride in his Vanguard car, returning me on his way back.

I can remember a man in a suit calling into our home and asking me some questions about my rides in the grocers car but as a four year-old it meant nothing to me.

Apparently I was molested by our grocer but I have no memory of any such occurrence.

As a “new Australian” kid at school I was bullied due to my differences. That “wog” status prevailed, up to and into my banking career, whereupon I reported a branch manager resulting in transfer from that branch to another.

Fast forward to age 47, and being selected for my banking retrenchment and subsequent 150+ job applications, the despair cost me six years of my life.

Fast forward again to 2020 and news of my middle daughter, out of three, having been sexually assaulted on the premises of the SCOSA Mitcham hub, an activity centre for people with disabilities, where she was a client.

Police investigations led to the perpetrator being charged and referred to State Prosecutions for trial. State Prosecutions did not pursue the matter to court because they deemed that my daughter’s testimony was unreliable. Their report called her a liar.

My daughter’s intellectual disability failed her.

When it came to providing her version of events and subsequent cross examination by the department’s own disability advocate, she was overwhelmed and could not retell the event.

She is verbally and literately challenged. She was a 40 year-old with verbal skills of a four or five year-old and reading and writing of about the same.

During this process, my youngest daughter, herself a counsellor assisting SAPOL in domestic violence victim counselling and women’s health pregnancy counselling, offered her assistance by representing her elder sibling during this entire ordeal.

A service for which I was grateful and thought it to be most admirable.

After this whole episode, I felt my failure as a father, in failing to protect and subsequently champion my daughter’s cause.

I entered my rabbit hole, and asked for “Scotty to beam me up”.

At the age of 72 I’d had enough, my emotional state was overwhelming, and drove me to doctor’s advice and prescriptions.

My four closest friends offered their opinions and advice which I duly noted and ignored.

My four different depression medications played havoc with my psyche and seemingly created an alter person, whose behaviour was abominably obnoxious.

This drug addled manifestation drove me to the bottom of the pit.

One of my friends, an AA counsellor, once told me that you have to get to the lowest point before you can start the journey back. He was right.

Some months later I saw a Facebook advertisement for an inaugural Entree of The Mens Table, which I attended, followed by the subsequent meetings. At each of these, one or more attendees would share their painful experiences and thereby breaking their emotional barrier of/in tears. I couldn’t tell anybody anything, because I had no trust, and total insecurity to reveal my failures as a man and father of daughters. It took me four months of meetings before I was ready to bring forth my own demons.

This was cathartic and relieved the burden, not just from my shoulders but my soul. It was uplifting.

I’ve attended each and every meeting because Men’s Table offered trust, non judgemental empathy and genuine release.

Men’s Table is the vehicle to deliver me from myself.

Men’s Table repaired my psyche and will to continue my life.

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