ADF bullying, harassment and discrimination against Veterans

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The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP
Prime Minister,

Case: Mr J. Falkenberg and ADF battle

I am an Australian citizen and proud. I have taken this pride for the respect and justice and fairness I have learnt and seen in this nation. However, I have been disappointed and angry greatly in regards to my best friend, Mr Falkenberg's struggle with Australian Defence Force since 2010 and early 2015.

Mr Falkenberg is a loving brother to two young men. He is highly respected by his family and friends. I have never seen a heart as his, pure, loving and giving to those who need his help and support. But this time, he needs our help and all the support that we could provide him. Therefore, my letter is about Mr Falkenberg and his case. I write this with a heartache and great disappointment by the ADF failure system and how it treats its personnel with disrespect and lack of support. I write this with an urge for your actions to take place in this matter since everyone is busy and not willing to bring justice to him. I trust that you are a leader who does what your good conscience leads you to do and I know there is humanity in your heart to an extent you would never ignore such matter in regards to one of your nation's citizen and ex-serving man. This is a matter of life or death.

Mr Falkenberg was an Air Surveillance Operator in Australian Defence Force. He has been battling with mental health as he was in his professional field, and the ADF has made it worse for him to cope or even to continue doing the job he loves. Not only that, but the ADF has not listened to his problems and the discrimination he faced by his colleagues and commanders. Instead, ADF showed lack of sympathy, loyalty and injustice. ADF always made him feel guilty for what he went through. I cannot believe that our ADF is treating its personnel with such poor treatment and providing minimal support to those who needs it most like Mr Falkenberg.

On 2 February 2015, Mr Falkenberg has left his work officially for medical reasons. He was discriminated, bullied and sexually harassed by his Unit. He has been called names such "Faggot", "Jack", "Special", "Wanker", "Cluster", and "Weird" for attending his medical appointments whenever his health required him to do so. Although, Mr Falkenberg brought this up to his higher personnel, yet they dismissed it. One of Mr Falkenberg’s colleagues has witness the poor treatment he was treated by his unit and commanders. This has left Mr Falkenberg feeling unwelcomed and respected by his work field colleagues. In addition, one of his colleagues used to flash his genital to Mr Falkenberg in changeroom and laugh about it. He reported the incident to his Chief of Air Force and was told "that's just Boz being Boz", although Mr Falkenberg provided evidence yet it was denied.

The Unit would laugh and make jokes about Mr Falkenberg having mental health appointments with his doctor. He tells me that, they would write his name on the board and next to it the reason of his absence, this made him feel humiliated and laughed at by the Unit and commanders.

I have noticed Mr Falkenberg recently been telling me more of how low and neglected he feels by this country. The suicide thoughts have increased with him since withdrawing his court case against ADF. He tells me "no one cares about me", " this country does not care about me", "I am better to be gone" and " I should die". I have seen how this has impacted his mental health and daily life routine. He does not eat, nor socialize with people; he has been feeling the urge to die because of the lack of the support by ADF for him. ADF does not take responsibility for their actions and almost want Mr Falkenberg to break down otherwise to keep quiet.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows the recent suicide rate statistics of ex-serving men have gone higher to 30.7%. I do not want my friend to be a victim of suicide because of the bullying and sexual misconduct by the ADF personnel which they lacked at solving and handling the matter as it should have been. I am sure many more families are struggling to cope with the loss of their loved ones to this crime and highly unacceptable behaviour. It is a crime and it needs to be stopped and brought to the light of justice of your honour, Mr Prime Minister.

What I am asking from you, is to consider this matter and take actions. Mr Falkenberg has gone through very tough and low times. In addition, he has lost his father in October 2016 to depression and heart attack because of ADF treatment to his son. He tells me it was only his father who truly cared about him.

Would you care for Mr Falkenberg, your honour?
Would you take the appropriate actions and bring justice to this young man?

Many other ex-serving men who put their lives on the front line to serve this country with dignity and honour are going EXACTLY as my friend is going through. Losing ONE person to suicide because of bullies and harassment by the ADF is A LOT, your honour.

Yours sincerely,