Audrey Fagan dead

johnboy 23 April 2007 119

I have this from two sources. The ACT’s Chief Police Officer, Audrey Fagan, is dead.

No further details at this time.

UPDATED: Radio reports on the ABC say it was while on holiday and “no suspicious circumstances”.

Further Update: Jon Stanhope has put out a media release which praises CPO Fagan but offers no insight into her demise. It’s early days but one begins to wonder about the dancing around the cause of death.

The AFP’s media release is now also available.

Another update: Mainstream media has finally caught up and a plethora of sources are on this story.

A thought: This is the same Queensland Police Force that can happily declare “no suspicious circumstances” when Aborigines are murdered in police cells. I don’t see how much short of a royal commission can be avoided here.

MORE: Simon Corbell got a media release online late last night it indicates that Deputy Chief Police Officer Shane Connelly will continue as Acting Chief Police Officer.

And again: The Canberra Times has bestirred itself to put the story on its website.

Big news: The SMH finally has some details:

“It is believed the mother-of-one died by hanging. Queensland police said there were no suspicious circumstances.

Yesterday, AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty would not confirm the death of the 26-year police veteran was a suicide. He said Ms Fagan had been burdened by media criticism of poor police media management, and recently undertook professional support for stress.

“Clearly, she felt the pressure of the campaign of the criticism over the last couple of weeks,” he said.”

Can anyone suggest a circumstance in which it is not either; suicide, or suspicious? I also note the serious boot being laid into the Canberra Times (and possibly us I suppose). I would suggest that if the CPO was tipped over the edge by a call for more media access then Mr Keelty needs to be looking seriously at the support and resources his organisation was providing her with. Either way there needs to be a major inquiry.

CT Overload: The Canberra Times is going wall to wall on this today. Most of the stories say the same thing over and over because, at the end of the day, very little is known. So there are stories here, here, here, and here.

More significantly the CT Editor in Chief, Jack Waterford has damned with faint praise before going on to defend his past criticisms.

Monday update: The Brisbane Times is claiming that two notes have been found.

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119 Responses to Audrey Fagan dead
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chester chester 9:49 am 29 Apr 07

I think your line of thinking might be very warm onlooker.

Hanging. Most unusual method for a female. Especially one who, I would have assumed, had access to a gun. But so loaded with symbolism, I struggle to believe CPO Fagan chose it by chance. Which leaves me wondering what the poor woman was going through and what circumstances could drive someone who must have dealt with plenty of pressure and stress over the years to that.

There’s been no suggestion so far of any personal issues. I can’t help but feel CPO Fagan had a point to make. If that’s the case, I hope her death isn’t in vain because I have a strong suspicion it’s a point that needs to be heard and heeded by plenty of people in this town.

Whether that includes bullying from within the ranks of the police force remains to be seen. But I’m far from alone in believing there’s a culture of bullying in this town and that ultimately, it emanates from the gang of three. In that respect, much of the commentary on this site has been spot on. There’s too much power concentrated in the too few hands of people with too little talent, and an absent, inadequate or dysfunctional system of checks and balances.

blavatsky blavatsky 8:51 am 29 Apr 07

Did Audrey have any enemies ?
Did Audrey receive death threats like the former police commissioner (MY WHITE KNIGHT) Peter Ryan ?

Does this have anything to do with the Late David Lambda and the WODD ROTAL COMMITION ?

Onlooker Onlooker 5:12 am 29 Apr 07

Could not resist clicking on the link that JB provided for “stupid onlooker”. I kid you not the first words that the highlighter picked out on the first hit were “Stupid” ”Boys are Stupid” and “Stupid White Man”. lol.

johnboy johnboy 1:17 pm 28 Apr 07

you’re free to take whatever you like from what has been said.

smiling politely smiling politely 1:09 pm 28 Apr 07

Hang on – Onlooker makes some legitimate and, clearly, considered responses to other posts and then, by virtue of the fact that she uses Google – perhaps unwisely – as a means of trying to illustrate her views, everything that she’s said is thus invalidated?

Sure Johnboy, your site and everything, you can say what you want and allow schmooks like me and everyone else to join in, but taking cheap shots like this hardly adds to the reputation of a site you’ve worked so hard to develop.

Cameron Cameron 4:33 pm 27 Apr 07

Article in the Australian on Audrey Fagan’s funeral.

Google News turns up a bunch of articles, that one is the most detailed.

Absent Diane Absent Diane 3:48 pm 27 Apr 07

absent diane of the imminent present doesn’t exist


ps I love this new way of determining who is right in an argument.. fantastic concept!!

bonfire bonfire 3:40 pm 27 Apr 07

bonfire always right

1,020,000 googles

johnboy johnboy 3:19 pm 27 Apr 07

You can play anytime you like, but such fatuously irrelevant data being introduced invalidates your opinion in this discussion as far as I’m concerned.

For example googling stupid onlooker brings up 101,000 results.

Whereas handsome johnboy only has 26,100 entries.

Sadly making you four times stupider than I am handsome by this utterly meaningless datum.

I’m not going to address the other issues here, frankly today is not the day for it.

Onlooker Onlooker 3:01 pm 27 Apr 07

Oh johnboy whatever happened to three strikes and you are out? Maybe, I think to myself, he didn’t read my next sentence and thinks that I believe that she who gets the highest number of hits wins? Maybe it’s no longer cool to Google? Will I ever be allowed to play on RiotACT again?

VicePope VicePope 8:52 am 27 Apr 07

Onlooker – I agree that workplace bullying is a real problem, in many organisations, not just the AFP. It’s a thread that this site might want to pick up and riff on about for a long time. (Think about being a News Ltd or ABC journalist who doesn’t buy into the groupthink, a public servant who is sceptical about management or an ACT teacher outside the mutual-advancement clique at a school).

But at this stage, we don’t know how Ms Fagan died, although there seems to be a consensus based on rumour that it was suicide. And we have absolutely no idea why she might have done it, assuming for the moment it was suicide. Everyone’s life is a complex web of roles and pressures, and those on the outside of a given life see only small parts of it. Some parts of Ms Fagan’s life were public, and some were private – none of us really knows where the most pressure or sadness might have come from or how the different elements might have interacted.

The ultimate lesson is probably a simple one about decency and concern for others. Unless we know better, or unless we really must do or say something, it is wisest to assume that what we say may be the straw that will break the back of even the strongest camel and to weigh our words and actions carefully.

johnboy johnboy 7:27 am 27 Apr 07

If you Google ‘school bullying policies’ or ‘workplace bullying policies’ you get a over a million references for each


Argument over, you lose.

Onlooker Onlooker 2:28 am 27 Apr 07

I have not been on the website for a couple of days so I have just caught up with some of the reaction to my last posting. My responses are:

Thank you Hasdrubahl and Cameron: Yes, I was trying to maintain some sanity in the thread. As a newcomer to RiotACT I was also hoping to find some considered discussion of local events.
Sultain of swing: Wrong! I’m not Jeff Kennett. I’m a 60yo female who has lived in Canberra for close to 40 years. I never met Audrey Fagan.
Re your other comment that “He may have wished to publicly bash her in the media or had a personal reason to attack her and hurt her. But doubt even he could have foreseen such a sad outcome”. As I comment below, the effects of bullying can be devastating. To “bash”, “attack” and “hurt” would reasonably be construed as bullying rather than as constructive comment or critical assessment.
terry…wrist: I guess that a career as a pen-pusher in the Commonwealth Public Service can leave one sounding a bit formal at times! Also, I like to inform myself or double check my facts so going to beyondblue seemed like a good start. Like others in this thread I also wanted to maintain a level of civility and informed comment.
VicePope: I pretty much agree with what you have written. As I said previously, I have not read Jack Waterford’s articles criticizing the AFP but I did read his “Audrey Fagan: a private death, a public tragedy” published on 22 April 2006 immediately following her death. I felt that it must have been one of the more difficult articles for him to write and he made some positive comments about Audrey Fagan. However, he may have been better advised to have left out his last three paragraphs as they smacked of too much self-justification.
johnboy You wrote:
“It would be ridiculous to end up in a situation where no criticism can be made of public policy for fear officials will take it to heart and do something drastic”.
I agree. However, much of what is offered up in the media as analysis, critical assessment or calls for accountability, amounts to little more than personal vilification, bullying tactics and ad hominem comments.
Let’s switch from the focus on depression and look instead at bullying which is more familiar territory for most people. School bullying can be so devastating that its psychological effects will last for a lifetime. Workplace bullying can be similarly devastating. No matter whether it’s a case of subordinates bullying their supervisors or vice-versa the targeted person will almost certainly develop some symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression. Their recovery will depend on the level of understanding and support that they receive and the assurance that bullying is regarded as unacceptable behaviour.
Many victims of sustained bullying turn to violence against their bully or against persons or institutions that they hold responsible for not stopping the bullying. The US school shootings are the prime example here. Others will turn to self-harm, including suicide.
If you Google ‘school bullying policies’ or ‘workplace bullying policies’ you get a over a million references for each. Some, of course, will be ill-informed comment but others detail the level of bullying and its great human and economic costs along with programs to address the problem.

VicePope VicePope 10:14 pm 25 Apr 07

I’m agreeing with Onlooker, and it’s the reason I wrote as I did before. When one is depressed (assuming this was suicide, which I don’t know for sure), anything adverse can seem catastrophic. That includes criticism, feelings of having caused disappointment and perceived snubs.

We don’t know any of the details or the reasons, and it’s pretty silly to speculate before any reliable information comes out, if it ever does. I’m not bothered about whether it does or not. I have looked the big black dog in the eye for most of my life, and like it not at all.

On the other hand, I put myself solidly in the anti-Waterford camp. Whether or not he has this blood on his hands, I consider his past actions and attitudes are those of a small-town bully who wants to get his way, and who can sometimes fail to see that his professional interest and the public’s may be different. It’s a judgment call, but I’d understand it if the AFP and other agencies cut him off the drip.

bigred bigred 10:04 pm 25 Apr 07

Special G, that’d be a river in Egypt I’d suggest.

terry_wrist terry_wrist 5:08 pm 25 Apr 07

I did say Onlooker made some good points. I agree, he does bring some sanity and logical thought to the thread. My comments were not intended as a put down.

I was just amused by how official he sounded, almost like he represented BeyondBlue.

To Onlooker: sorry for any offence.

Special G Special G 5:03 pm 25 Apr 07

Bigred, denial about what? You are going to have to fill me in on that one as I have no idea what you are talking about.

Cameron Cameron 11:44 am 25 Apr 07


Hasdrubahl Hasdrubahl 7:09 am 25 Apr 07

Jeff Kennett or not, at least Onlooker brings some sanity to the thread.

sultain of swing sultain of swing 4:34 am 25 Apr 07

I have a feeling that Onlooker is none other than Beyond Blue Patron Jeff Kennett.

But he/she makes a good point. I doubt any of us really understand depression. Each one of us has a different psychological make up. For Audrey Fagan, perhaps she developed a heightened sensitivity to crtisism, one that was finally enough to drive her to suicide. I don’t think such sensitivity with such acute consequences would exist in many people. Therefore, I maintain that whether right or wrong, Waterford should not be blamed for Fagan’s suicide. He may have wished to publicly bash her in the media or had a personal reason to attack her and hurt her. But doubt even he could have foreseen such a sad outcome.

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