Insensitive reporting in The Australian
6 April 2017
The below response was provided by Defence to journalist Rory Callinan prior to the publishing of his article “Soldier a victim of ‘psychological warfare’” (The Australian, 6 April 2017).
Defence acknowledges the serious nature of this incident and the allegations raised. However, we are deeply concerned about The Australian's intent to exploit a vulnerable individual for editorial content.
The ADF member is currently receiving treatment at a specialist medical facility in Germany. Medical advice is that publishing this material is not in the interest of individual's immediate welfare or recovery.
As the Australian Press Council's revised reporting guidelines on suicide (August 2011) state:
Reports should not be given undue prominence, especially by unnecessarily explicit headlines or images. Great care should be taken to avoid causing unnecessary harm or hurt to people who have attempted suicide or to relatives and other people who have been affected by a suicide or attempted suicide. This requires special sensitivity and moderation in both gathering and reporting.
The member's recovery and support to the individual's family and colleagues is Defence's highest priority.
In publishing this deeply personal and sensitive material, The Australian has decided to place a higher value on what it argues is in the public interest than the individual's welfare and that of the member's family.
As Defence has previously advised, Defence is investigating the circumstances surrounding this incident and the allegations raised by the ADF member.