Meandering through my Sydney Sunday newspaper- The Sunday Telegraph – (poor fare, why do they bother) two things struck me. One concerned the sad suicide death of rugby league player and coach Paul Green. A terrible thing for his family to deal with. Enough said.
However, according to the writer of an article on the tragedy, a Phil Rothfield, “Green’s death has led to concerns around the welfare of former players and coaches across rugby league.” Where does this kind of thing come from these days?
Life is tough, there’s no doubt about that. But tougher still for rugby league players? A friend of Green is reported as saying that the NRL is like a machine that can just spit you out. Is it? I once worked for the State Bank Victoria. When it collapsed and was taken over by the CBA, the CBA spat a lot of us with dependent families out onto the street. Nothing special about it. Lots of people get spat out of their employment.
It’s the victim card again, of course, being played. It’s just plain silly in this case, as it is in most cases. I understand that professional rugby league players are well paid. Lucky them; not poor them. Though to be fair there is no hiding place in sport. Whereas plenty of bankers are incompetent without sticking out. If you’re a sportsman and your standards drop, you stick out. But that’s the well-remunerated game they’re in and the pitfalls are not kept secret.
A second thing that struck me was criticism of some reported comments by Sir Peter Cosgrove following the release of the interim report of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. Apparently, according to the newspaper, he suggested that new recruits to the ADF needed to be more tightly screened to ensure they are not predisposed to mental health problems.
No doubt he will feel pressured to roll back this reported comment; again, in these days of extolling victimhood, the truth, even the bleeding obvious, has to be handled with kid gloves, lest it enrage the mob. But surely operating in the ADF is one of the most stressful occupations; particularly in combat roles. Mental strength is a key requirement, isn’t it?
Now I know other factors besides the stress of combat might be at play in the ADF, which bear on the considerations of the Royal Commission. Nonetheless, it is still true that those bearing arms need to be mentally as well as physically tough. And part of the recruitment process must be to weed out those who fall short. No shame in it. Just a fact of life. If the process isn’t rigorous enough then some ADF personnel will suffer unnecessarily. Can’t that be said?