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General Angus Campbell submits further evidence to the Royal Commission and denies ‘deep systemic failure’ for specific suicide case

Written by Javed Iqbal

General Angus Campbell continued his evidence at hearings in Townsville this week after previously saying the defense “is not doing enough” to solve suicide.

On Friday, General Campbell was asked why an officer – known as Person C – was promoted despite a record of unacceptable behavior dating back at least five years.

“Do you remember that person C had received a promotion since the period when reports of unacceptable behavior had started appearing on AIMS? [Army Incident Management System]? “said an adviser who assisted Peter Gray QC.

General Campbell offered an explanation.

“No decision-maker or delegate had been able to consider Person C’s repeated unacceptable behavior exhibited over a number of years,” he said.

General Campbell said the incidents were related to “various entities and environments holistically and (there had been) repeated informal attempts by Person C’s command route to correct his behavior.”

Mother’s investigation into son’s suicide led to investigation

The officer in question eventually stopped serving in the ADF, but only after the mother of a veteran claimed that the officer’s bullying had contributed to her son’s death by suicide in 2017.

General Campbell was investigated as to whether person C would have remained in the defense force without the intervention of the mother.

“It is possible,” said General Campbell.

“Both are possible – that he may have become [or] that he may have ceased to serve. “

General Campbell said superiors did not necessarily review a member’s history of unacceptable behavior during the promotion process.

But he rejected the idea from a lawyer who helped him that it was a “deep systemic failure”.

“I see it rather as evidence of an evolving system that has an innate tension between the responsibility of dealing with incidents and seeking to develop your people,” General Campbell said.

No legal protection for submitting staff

So far, the Commission has received 1,683 submissions.

About 13 percent are from current operating staff.

But the commission heard that there was no legal protection in place for current service personnel or veterans of “fear that they would get into trouble” to disclose sensitive information.

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Javed Iqbal

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