The father of a young navy sailor who took her own life had to be removed from a recruitment event after an extraordinary interjection.
The father of a young woman who took her own life after a traumatic experience in the Australian Navy has interrupted a recruitment event to warn other young women to stay away.
Alan Bailey was filmed at the ‘I can, you can women in Defence luncheon” on the Gold Coast on Saturday taking the podium amid protests for him to leave.
He told potential recruits in attendance that they should consider an alternative career path after his daughter Teri joined a growing list of navy and ADF veterans who have taken their lives in recent months.
Teri Bailey took her own life on her 25th birthday in December after claiming she was subjected to an attempted sexual assault and then abused by the navy when she made a formal report.
“Ladies, please make an informed decision before you are recruited. Do your own research into psychological, sexual and physical abuse in the ADF before you sign your life away,” Mr Bailey said in a video from the event.
“Explain why the suicide rate in the ADF is more than double that of civilians,” he said.
He told the crowd his daughter “took her own life” after she “got PTSD from this lot”.
“The abuse, when she reported it … she was told ‘get out of my office or I’ll break your other leg and throw you overboard’,” he claimed.
“(Defence) knows (suicide) takes place. They’ve witnessed it and they’ve ignored it.”
The Daily Telegraph reports that Ms Bailey, who served aboard HMAS Cairns, dislocated her knee three times after joining the Navy at the age of 18. When she opted to have surgery, she was labelled a “sea dodger”.
“After her surgery she was severely bullied by her peers and called a ‘sea dodger’, to say she only received surgery for her injury so that she could avoid doing her training out at sea,” Mr Bailey said.
“She also told me she had her hair pulled, was spat on and groped (during her service).
“She also was threatened by another patient in the ward who had managed to get hold of a syringe.”
He said bullying his daughter claimed to experience included a torch being shone in her face “every hour” as she struggled with sleep deprivation.
She was formally discharged on October 23, 2015 and took her own life on December 8 last year. The Telegraph reports that a note she left behind named people who had wronged her.
Julie-Ann Finney, who lost her own son, navy veteran David Finney, to suicide, is advocating for a royal commission into Australian veteran suicides.
Mr Finney served his country for 20 years before leaving the navy with post-traumatic stress disorder.
He reached out to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, saying he needed help. But he did not receive any and subsequently took his own life.
Mrs Finney told news.com.au she had been in communication with Mr Bailey and thought he was a “legend” for speaking up on the weekend.
The news comes amid a spate of veteran suicides, including 15 in the last three months. Many of those have been linked to the navy.
Clearance diver and Australian Navy veteran Max Gunn tragically took his own life at the start of the month – the latest in a growing list of veteran suicides that has advocates and grieving families demanding a royal commission.
In tributes to the former Tactical Assault Group member, Gunn was remembered as a “kind and wonderful brother”.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of LSCD Max Gunn, who tragically passed away last week,” read one tribute on a page dedicated to advocacy for veterans.
“LSCD Max Gunn was a professional member of the clearance diving branch and Tactical Assault Group East and had transitioned out of Defence one year ago.
“The information from his mates points to a kind and wonderful brother who will be greatly missed. Max had a reputation for his brutal honesty, skills and professionalism. He was an extremely well respected member and friend.”