Haunting tales, which formed the script of a Hollywood movie, are being recounted to the royal commission by the scores of child migrants who were shipped to Western Australia with the false promise of a better life.
For decades, the torment and abuse UK children - many of whom were forcibly taken from unwed mothers or told their parents had died - and Australian orphans were subjected to at residential homes run by the Congregation of Christian Brothers in Western Australia, remained hidden.
Following the results of the Forgotten Children Senate Inquiry, a national apology was delivered by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition at Parliament House in 2009.
The film Oranges and Sunshine - which tells the story of British social worker Margaret Humphrey's who travelled to Australia in the 80s to reunite parents in the UK with their grown children - shed further light on the unthinkable conditions at the homes, in particular, St Joseph's Training Farm and Trade School "Bindoon".
A former Bindoon resident told Tuesday's hearing he was just nine when he was sent to live at the remote farm where "children were worked as men".
He said that rather than receiving an education, the boys were used as slaves, forced to labour on the orchards and buildings and kept on minimal food rations.
He described at least nine priests as being sexual predators and many more who abused the boys mentally and physically "often with sadistic delight".
The biggest betrayal, the witness said, was the grooming of him as a child by a brother who lured him with the promise of a parcel of agricultural land in the future.
When the promise was broken, the man was devastated at the thought that "there would be no reward for my years of hell".
The hearing is expected to run for another two weeks.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.