School of Humanities and Social Inquiry

 Crime Camera Action Logo

Date: 18 February 2012
Time: 9am - 5pm
Venue: University of Wollongong, Building 20, Lecture Theatre 4
Cost:  Free - open to the general public.  Morning and afternoon tea is provided for participants.
            Lunch can be purchased from Out to Lunch.
Inquiries and further information:  email Rob Carr or telephone 02 4221 3180
RSVP: 12 February 2012 to Rob Carr (include name, contact email, organisation and number of guests)

Exactly a year ago to the day, Wollongong was virtually under siege - gripped by fear, police politics, media and the city’s surveillance network. The NSW Police Association, citing CCTV camera footage, claimed violent crime was ‘out of control’ in Wollongong. News media ran with the story, but was crime really out of control?

Today our presenters will investigate dangerous ideas, truth and the histories of crime in Wollongong and abroad. “Crime, Cameras, Action!” explores how justice can be usurped by powerful interests. It unpacks what we know about crime, policing and the media, and how the public thinks about those things through misperception and intrigue.

The setting for Crime, Cameras, Action is Wollongong’s dark and shadowy past spanning the last two hundred years. Wollongong is built on foundations of indigenous dispossession, a harbour built by convict labour, coal mine explosions and cover ups, endemic corruption in the local Council and the Table of Knowledge. In the 1990s Wollongong gained an unwanted reputation as the paedophilia and murder capital of New South Wales. A series of grizzly murders – including the particularly gruesome death of a former Lord Mayor in 1998 – had the city reeling. 

The 2011 local government elections delivered the first democratically elected Council since 2008. A new popularly elected independent Lord Mayor, Gordon Bradbery, was voted in. Wollongong City Council has an opportunity to turn the page and begin a new chapter in the history of local government.

This special UOW event is open to the community. It will be held at the University of Wollongong on Saturday 18th February 2012 in building 20 from 9am to 5pm.

The event will feature academic and non-academic papers by researchers, media professionals, community advocates and others. The plenary speaker is Roseanne Catt, Australia’s longest serving female prisoner. Roseanne was framed for the attempted murder of her husband and wrongly imprisoned for ten years, a story which is documented in her book Ten Years.

Other speakers include the scriptwriter of Underbelly Felicity Packard, Nick Hartgerink (former editor of Illawarra Mercury), and historians Glenn Mitchell and Rob Carr.

Introductions to the event will be given by Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery, as well as former NSW MP and prominent corruption fighter John Hatton. Hatton’s allegations of police corruption led to the Wood Royal Commission in 1997.


To RSVP, please email Rob Carr with your name, contact email, organisation and number of guests by Sunday 12th February 2012.

Crime, Cameras, Action! is an official Faculty of Arts community event.

The presenters

Roseanne Catt, Plenary speaker
Felicity Packard
Nick Hartgerink
Professor Sue Turnbull
Dr Glenn Mitchell
Robert Carr
Michael Organ
Camilla Nelson
Anne Mobbs
Josip Matesic
Professor Matt Allen
Angela J Williams
Michael Gross
Jason Wilson

Roseanne CattRoseanne Catt  In 1991, Roseanne Catt was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment, falsely charged with attempting to murder her husband. She was to spend ten long years behind bars before a growing public outcry over the obvious miscarriage of justice saw her released on special bail in 2001. Roseanne will speak about her new book, Ten Years, which recounts the dishonesty, manipulation and malice of the police officer who charged her, and the lies and deceptions of her husband as they successfully hoodwinked the justice system. Roseanne’s horrifying true story reveals how an innocent woman came to be the longest-serving female prisoner in New South Wales, and of her fight for justice. It’s a story of corruption and brutality – both inside and outside of jail – that will appall and outrage, and it’s a story of Roseanne’s extraordinary courage and spirit that will uplift and inspire.

Felicity PackardFelicity Packard is one of the writers behind the four Underbelly series (Underbelly; A Tale of two Cities; The Golden Mile; and Razor). She has also written for TV shows G.P., Home & Away, MDA, Blue Heelers, McLeod’s Daughters, Sea Patrol and The Strip. Felicity currently teaches in the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra. Her paper is called ‘Is that what really happened? The true crimes of writing Underbelly.’

Nick HartnerginkNick Hartgerink: Journalist and author Nick Hartgerink worked at the Illawarra Mercury from 1977 to 2001 – the last six years as Editor. He will talk about the Mercury’s approach to crime reporting in that era, and the community’s reaction to the way it reported some of those crimes. In the 1990s Wollongong gained an unwanted reputation as the paedophilia and murder capital of New South Wales. A series of grizzly murders – including the particularly gruesome death of a former Lord Mayor in 1998 – had the city reeling. The Mercury had exposed paedophilia in the Catholic Church in an expose that was to make national headlines and lead to the jailing of one priest and the death by apparent suicide of a prominent  teaching brother and school headmaster. The Mercury had long had a reputation for taking crime reporting very seriously – critics would say sensationally. But how do you sensationalise the death of one of the city’s best known citizens, a man who had been embroiled in child pornography and paedophilia scandals in the years leading up to his death and who was found with his head smashed in and tie pins stuck in his eyes? Nick now runs a media consultancy in the region and is the author of five books, including a best-selling biography of Australia’s first world 500cc motorcycle world champion Wayne Gardner, published in 1989, and a history of the University of Wollongong, published in 2011. 

Sue TurnbullProfessor Sue Turnbull (Faculty of Arts, UOW) will be discussing British TV police dramas from the 1970s including The Sweeney and Law and Order. She will also shed light on the first series of the Australian TV hit Underbelly, which was banned in Victoria because of an impending murder investigation. Apart from her extensive list of academic publications, Sue is crime fiction reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald and has been a convenor of Sisters in Crime Australia since 1992.

Glenn MitchellDr Glenn Mitchell (Faculty of Arts, UOW) and Dr Henry Lee (UOW College) will discuss how the Royal Commission into the NSW Police Service had a surprising consequence – it produced evidence that challenged Wollongong’s conventional history. The Commission’s Inquiry 6 (Anthony Bevan) and Case Study 3 (Father Peter Comensoli and Brother Michael Evans) revealed another side of Wollongong. This paper has its focus the Bevan inquiry. Tony Bevan was a prominent businessman and Wollongong’s Mayor from 1965 to 1968. However, there was also another side to Tony Bevan. He was also Commander Hook, a member of an extensive ring of paedophiles. The paper raises questions about power and authority in Wollongong; why did Bevan attract police surveillance for more than 20 years, have a private life which was widely known in Wollongong and avoid prosecution and media scrutiny? When looked at in this way, his case raises fundamental questions about the use of power in Wollongong – who had power; how was it used and why; and how those who had power and influence obtained, deployed and maintained it.

Rob CarrRobert Carr recently submitted his PhD at UOW (Faculty of Arts). Today he will investigate the misuse of Wollongong Council’s CCTV footage by the NSW Police Association in 2011 - and the politics behind it. Robert will unpack the power of ‘perception’ (or misperception) in Wollongong: a city virtually under siege and gripped by fear, police politics, media and the city’s surveillance network. Wollongong, he says, needs a new perception of its past, present and therefore its future. That cannot happen without facing facts, dealing with the truth about crime, moving beyond misperception and curbing misuse of the city’s CCTV network.

Michael OrganMichael Organ is a former federal MP for the Wollongong seat of Cunningham. He will discuss how, on Valentine's Day 2001, a phalanx of the heavily armed New South Wales police tactical response unit marched down Point Street, Bulli, over the railway bridge and towards a group of some 300 local residents, protesting at the Stocklands development, Sandon Point. On that day the mob comprised young children, kids wagging school, workers, the elderly - in fact, a representative and broad section of the local community. As the police engaged with the crowd, who, with the aid of a broken down truck was blockading the entrance to the site, one by one they were taken away, arrested, and transported to the nearby Bulli Police Station and Court House. Organ says the police were there to do a job, but it was on behalf of the developers. He explores the ‘crime’ of the community who stood in the way of police.

Camilla NelsonCamilla Nelson (University of Notre Dame Australia) is the author of two novels, including Crooked, a book about the death of Richard Reilly, which was shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Awards in 2009. Her academic work has been published in Australia and internationally. Today Camilla’s paper is titled ‘The Scent of Cordite: Sydney’s Gangland Wars of the 1960s’. She explores the gangland shooting of Sydney baccarat operator Richard Reilly in 1967 as he stepped out of his mistress’s flat. The stray pellets shattering into the brickwork behind, Reilly was the latest victim in a gangland war that had engulfed the Sydney underworld for almost four years. Reilly had proven ties to the Labor Party and was also the most feared gambling boss in the city with more than a dozen murders committed at his instigation.

Anne MobbsAnne Mobbs is a PhD researcher at UOW (Faculty of Arts). Her paper is titled ‘How Corruption and Punishment was Dealt With in Colonial Illawarra’. Anne explores the alleged murder of a group of Aborigines by employees of a magistrate on his Illawarra property. The ruling of a court case on the matter displeased New South Wales Governor Lachlan Macquarie. Even after his intervention, only a convict was charged with the crime while the free settlers walked free. Anne has been involved in local and family history for thirty years. More recently Anne began researching the early colonial period of the Illawarra district, including an Honors degree, a study on the Illawarra as a penal settlement.

Josip MatesicJosip Matesic is a PhD researcher at UOW (Faculty of Arts). His paper is titled ‘Corruption and The Illawarra Mercury in the 1990s: Two Cases of Child Sex Crimes, Trial by Media and Silence’. Since its earliest days, corruption has existed in Wollongong. There have been times when the local media has shown complacency towards corruption. The Illawarra Mercury committed a public trial by media of Brother Michael Evans in 1994, listing the sordid details given by some teenage boys in their affidavits. The newspaper, however, was largely quiet when it came to child sex crimes allegedly committed by Alderman Brian Tobin, along with his suicide in 1996. Josip asks, can the media always be trusted to report in the public’s interest? Is there such a thing as too much knowledge being a bad thing?

Matt AllenProfessor Matt Allen (Faculty of Arts, UOW) is an expert on organised crime in Japan, and is presenting research about the underworld of the Yakuza. In the new millennium Japan’s organised crime syndicates have increasingly diversified their interests to meet the current economic and social climate. With laws passed in the 1990s restricting their activities, and with less popular support for many of their more “traditional” activities – drugs, weapons, gambling, protection, prostitution – they have increased their investments in the more legitimate corporate world. Matt will explore the emergence of the yakuza in the post-World War 2 environment, as well as their current activities and influence on the Japanese economy.

Angela WilliamsAngela J Williams is a PhD candidate (Faculty of Creative Arts, UOW) who is writing a thesis about surveillance technologies and a memoir about power. She was a teenage delinquent and high-school drop-out who now plans on making it big in academia after realising that crime and the big house are much less glamorous than the movies make them out to be. Today Angela will discuss media representations of home detention, which she says are limited to presenting the celebrity, sexy, exciting or palatable aspects of the program. She will examine official policy documents on the expanding home detention program, and contrast these with her own lived experience serving a ten-month sentence on the program during 2010.

Michael GrossMichael Gross is a lecturer in the School of Management & Marketing at the University of Wollongong. He has recently completed his PhD thesis on the subject of ‘organizations of corrupt individuals’. Michael is a former senior officer of Wollongong City Council with experience in building and planning, community services development and economic development from 1959-1994. As Executive Assistant to the Lord Mayor Frank Arkell, he was involved in the efforts to revive the economy of the city and region in the 1980s. Today, Michael will discuss how, between 2002 and 2008, a number of individuals at Wollongong City Council engaged in various forms of individual corruption that ended in a major scandal, an ICAC investigation and the sacking of the Council, the reverberations of which continue today.

Jason WilsonJason Wilson Jason Wilson is Assistant Professor of Journalism and Communication at the University of Canberra. He has published academic work on Underbelly and Australian Television. Jason will discuss three ways in which regional Australian communities are transformed by true crime texts: they become gothic, ethnic or lawless. The paper considers the depiction of communities including Hobart, Snowtown, Griffith, Rockhampton, Darwin, Cairns and Wollongong. To explore these representations, Jason will refer to texts including Born or Bred, Things a Killer Would Know, The Killer Within, The Straits and Underbelly.


Last reviewed: 9 February, 2012