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Painful memories for defence families. -

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Many families have raised concerns about defence culture over the years. 7.30 has returned to
families who have spoken out in the past about the tragic impact it has had on their loved ones.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Over the past decade, many families have raised concerns about Defence
culture and the tragic impact it's had on their loved ones.

The Skype scandal of the past week has once again highlighted the issue.

It's one that 7.30 has covered extensively over many years.

This week, we've gone back to families who've spoken out in the past and they've told us that as
they see it, a string of inquiries has done little to produce real change.

For one mother, this latest incident of a young female cadet whose sexual encounter was broadcast
to fellow cadets is particularly harrowing.

Tracy Bowden reports.

SUSAN CAMPBELL: It was like being catapulted back in time, really, to see that another young person
had been made a victim twice over by officialdom.

TRACY BOWDEN, REPORTER: For Susan Campbell, the story about a young woman traumatised by her
experiences in the ADF has revived painful memories.

SUSAN CAMPBELL: It's frustrating and it's saddenning to think that 10 years after my own personal
circumstances and having to find my daughter having taken her life, to find that another young
person is being hounded by the same kind of officialdom and without any kind after apparent natural

TRACY BOWDEN: Eleanor Tibble was a 15-year-old Air Force cadet at Anglesea Barracks in Hobart. One
of her training instructors reported he'd had an improper relationship with her, a claim she

SUSAN CAMPBELL (2003): I said but this is absolutely impossible. You know that you are her
instructor. You know that she is only 15. She is a schoolgirl. You're a nearly 30-year-old man.

TRACY BOWDEN: The instructor was not interviewed by his superiors, but Ellie Tibble was told she
should resign or be dishonourably discharged. Then that advice was rescinded, but Eleanor was not
informed. 15 days later she, committed suicide.

SUSAN CAMPBELL (2003): I found her. I found my child hanging by her neck in the woodshed because
people wouldn't say to her there's no cause to answer.

TRACY BOWDEN: But the anguish that Susan Campbell has endured has sadly been experienced by other
military families. Jeremy Williams was 20.

JAN WILLIAMS (2003): The Army killed my boy, and there is just no two ways about it.

TRACY BOWDEN: Jeremy Williams injured his foot while training at Singleton Army Base north of
Sydney and was sent to rehab and discharge, or R&D, platoon. He told his parents he'd been
subjected to denigrating and abusive treatment.

CHARLES WILLIAMS (2003): He said they make you feel worthless, they we're described as heathen,
malingerers, scum.

TRACY BOWDEN: Charles Williams called the base to express his concern, asking that his comments
remain confidential. That didn't happen. Three days later, Jeremy Williams hanged himself.

Today, Charles Williams despairs that the culture he believes was responsible for his son's death
is still part of the fabric of the ADF.

CHARLES WILLIAMS: The overall complexion sadly of the Australian Defence Force is one of a culture
that's persistent, entrenched and very much propelled by perpetrators who go unchecked in this form
of behaviour.

BEN WADHAM, SOCIOLOGIST, FLINDERS UNI: If these kinds of incidents continue and are persistent as
they are, then we have to, you know - it's pretty hard to shy away from the fact there is some kind
of problem there.

TRACY BOWDEN: Sociologist Ben Wadham is taking part in a national radio forum on Australia's
military culture. He's a former combat soldier and military policeman and has carried out extensive
research into the subject.

BEN WADHAM: This is such an enduring issue. It has been marked by inquiry after inquiry into a
culture that is intensely closed, that operates as a kind of a brotherhood, that is male-dominated
and that is based around a principles of secrecy and denial and distortion.

TRACY BOWDEN: In 2005, a Senate inquiry into Australia's military justice system called for
sweeping reforms. The committee made a series of recommendations, but critics say the most
important one, recommendation 29, was rejected by the Federal Government.

SUSAN CAMPBELL: Recommendation 29 was that there would be a civil process applied to military
misdemeanours so that things would be both transparent both to the public service and to the
general public at large.

TRACY BOWDEN: The Government disagreed with recommendation 29 on the basis that it would be a
costly exercise that wouldn't provide real benefits in terms of increasing perceived independence.

But Sociologist Dr Ben Wadham says recommendation 29 would have provided the cadet in the current
Skype scandal somewhere to turn.

BEN WADHAM: 'Kate', for example, would have had an avenue for a redress of grievance. She was
unhappy with the way that she'd been treated. She wanted to go and express her grievance somewhere.
She didn't have an avenue, so she went to the media.

TRACY BOWDEN: While the families of young people who've suffered at the ADF welcome the inquiries
announced this week, they say that in the end, action that leads to change is what's needed.

SUSAN CAMPBELL: I think that unfortunately it is going to be probably a lifetime - it might be 25
years before we get rid of some of the entrenched attitudes.

CHARLES WILLIAMS: We want to see an organisation that is both welcoming and respectful of our young
Australians. But this country's Defence force will not attract large numbers of intelligent,
sensitive Australians if this behaviour is not stamped out.