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Govt awards compensation to families of milit -

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Govt awards compensation to families of military suicide victims

Broadcast: 23/10/2008


KERRY O'BRIEN, REPORTER: It's very rare for a Government department to stand up and say it got it
wrong. Certainly not with the Defence Department.

But after three years it happened today to the families of four young soldiers who had taken their
own lives after appalling treatment at the hands of the military.

Earlier this year we told how these four families had gone to the previous Federal Government
asking for an ex gratia payment to compensate for their pain and suffering. In that story we
revealed that despite agreement from both the Government and Opposition, the defence legal
department had been uncooperative in delivering a settlement.

Today all that change. Now not only has the Government agreed to compensation, but it's also
committed to investigate a scheme to compensate any other defence families left in similar

Mark Bannerman reports.

(Extract, 7.30 Report, May 2008)

ADRIAN HAYWARD: He was a wonderful boy. Turning into a man. He was a great brother to Catherine, Jo
and Amy, even Amy, today, she knows that David is not here, she knows that she's got a brother, and
when she says that, you know "David is up there in heaven", just can't say it.

(Extract, ends)

MARK BANNERMAN, REPORTER: David Hayward was a young soldier with everything to live for. But in
January 2004 after allegedly being bullied he went AWOL from his barracks near Darwin.

Two months later he was found dead at this backpacker's hostel in Perth. He had taken his own life.
For his family the first hint of trouble came when a policeman turned up in their front yard.

WENDY HAYWARD: "Mrs Hayward, I've got some really bad news for you," he said. "Your son, he's been
apparently found dead in Perth."

MARK BANNERMAN: That was it?

WENDY HAYWARD: And that was it. He said "he's been found and I've had a phone call from the army to
come and tell you that he's been found dead."

To be quite honest, I can't remember a lot after that.

MARK BANNERMAN: The Haywards had every reason to be shocked. As they told us earlier this year,
their son had been on the run for two months but the army told them nothing. This was a clear
breach of regulations. For Wendy Hayward, it was also a lethal error.

Do you have any doubt that David could have been saved?

WENDY HAYWARD: Yes, he would have been saved, there's no doubt about that.

ADRIAN HAYWARD: 100 per cent. I'm just very annoyed. I just cannot believe that an organisation
like that, that do have protocols in place, and they didn't follow it.

MARK BANNERMAN: The Hayward's case though, we discovered, was not unique.

In 2005 a senate inquiry into military justice detailed the story of Private Nicholas Shiels, a
young soldier who killed his best friend in a live firing exercise.

Despite evidence Nicholas Shiels was in post traumatic shock, the army failed to treat his
condition adequately before he took his own life.

PAUL SHIELS: It's affected my health. I've recently had a stroke in the past 18 months, which has
left me severely disabled.

TONI SHIELS: Life is just not the same; it's a struggle all the time. Because we have no future. As
far as Nick's concerned, that's all gone. And it's really hard to cope at times.

MARK BANNERMAN: Three years ago the Shiels joined three other families asking the Federal
Government for an ex gratia payment to compensate them for their loss. The Defence Department
response shocked their lawyers.

MARK BANNERMAN: How would you describe the process of dealing with defence legal on this issue of
the four families?

(Extract, 7.30 Report, May 2008)

EMMA HINES, SLATER & GORDON LAWYERS: The delay has just been extraordinary, and beyond anything
that could be considered reasonable in the normal course of things.

(Extract, ends)

PAUL SHIELS: The Government, whatever persuasion, has no say in the running of Defence.

MARK BANNERMAN: It now appears there was a fundamental disagreement between the Defence legal
department and the Government.

Today the Minister for Defence broke that deadlock, announcing a decision to grant an ex gratia
payment to all the families involved.

JOEL FITZGIBBON, DEFENCE MINISTER: Of course, no amount of money can ever be enough to replace the
loss of a son, but I hope it does exists, and I hope now that the families can have closure and
move on with their lives.

MARK BANNERMAN: In Adelaide the parents of Nicholas Shiels were delighted, if a little overcome.

TONI SHIELS: I think he would be very pleased, hopefully. And I don't think it would have
progressed this far unless he would have wanted it to happen. I just know that he's, he's with us.

MARK BANNERMAN: But Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon did more than simply hand out compensation
today. He also gave an undertaking to look at demands that Defence set up a scheme to compensate
other families that find themselves in similar situations.

JOEL FITZGIBBON: Of course we have also got coming a review of the Military Compensation Scheme
more generally to ensure that in the future cases like this can be properly and definitely

MARK BANNERMAN: For the Hayward family this was precisely what they wanted to hear.

WENDY HAYWARD: I urge other families in the same situation to come forward. We need to make a
difference, we have to stand up for what is right. Don't walk away, it's for your kids, and there
are a lot more people out there in the same position. This Government is prepared to listen and
prepared to make changes. So let's work with them.

(Extract, ADF advertisement)

VOICEOVER: What can I do for the next 12 months to get ahead?

(Extract, ends)

MARK BANNERMAN: This is clearly an important issue for the Government. Recruiting is down and the
Haywards still stand by the advice they gave this program earlier in the year.

(Extract, 7.30 Report, May 2008)

MARK BANNERMAN: Would you ever let your child go in the service again?

WENDY HAYWARD: Absolutely not.

ADRIAN HAYWARD: At this particular time, no.

WENDY HAYWARD: Absolutely not. No, no way.


KERRY O'BRIEN: Mark Bannerman with that report.