As Melbourne's gangland war gathered momentum during the late 1990s, another battle was being fought within the police force by one brave cop.
Young detective sergeant Simon Illingworth had joined the force to serve the public and make a difference. His world was forever shattered when he confronted police corruption head-on. Watching Melbourne's toughest killers working alongside his own colleagues made him sick to the guts. Simon soon discovered the price for standing up against them was death threats and isolation.
A spate of events finally sent him to the point of no return. He was brutally bashed - not by crooks but other policemen from an entrenched corrupt brotherhood. A witness preparing to give court evidence against police was then found dead in an execution-style murder. And an underworld crim who was given Simon Illingworth's address was caught in possession of eight guns, night vision goggles and a silencer.
In May 2004, after 17 years in Victoria Police, Simon brought about culture change in Victoria Police after appearing on ABC TV's Australian Story. Fearing for his life, this brave copper went public about the crisis facing the police force, in an episode of Australian Story that stopped the nation.
He spoke honestly about Melbourne's gangland killings and the corrupt police brotherhood that assisted and harboured them.
Simon Illingworth left the police force after 4 years working with police internal affairs in Victoria, rooting out crooked officers. He now runs his own company, Ethical Strength, and is the recipient of a bravery award from the Governor of Victoria.
Other Awards Simon has received
Royal Humane Society of Australasia Bravery Award
Sir Vincent Fairfax Fellow
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Certificate
Commendation for Bravery and Restraint
AusDavos Future Summit awardee (2005 Australian leadership awardees)
Aust.of the Year nominations
Pride of Aust. nomination
Perelberg award winner
His autobiography, 'filthy rat' became a best seller and is still selling. Simon left the police as one of the most highly experienced anti-corruption investigators in Australia and through Ethical Strength he uses his experience and knowledge of corruption, ethical decision making and leadership to support and build positive cultures in organisations worldwide.