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Veteran & Defence Personnel Suicide Royal Commission

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Media release – Dr Bernadette Boss CSC, Interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention, 19 April 2021 National Commissioner to work alongside a Royal Commission into defence and veteran suicide I am pleased that the Prime Minister has today announced that the important work I have commenced as the interim National Commissioner for […]

Media release – Dr Bernadette Boss CSC, Interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention, 19 April 2021

National Commissioner to work alongside a Royal Commission into defence and veteran suicide

I am pleased that the Prime Minister has today announced that the important work I have commenced as the interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention will continue concurrently with the work of a new Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicides. I look forward to working together to tackle this problem, and reduce the rate of suicide in our Defence and Veteran community.

Working to prevent Defence and Veteran suicide into the future is my key priority. I am committed to understanding both what is wrong and what is working well to understand the changes that need to be made to prevent future deaths. Since commencing my role in November I have been working in a trauma-informed, restorative and culturally appropriate way, hearing from families, community groups, experts, and serving and ex-serving members that have been personally affected by suicide. I have developed a significant body of work that I will be sharing with the Royal Commission. I have conducted 18 round tables and spoken to many families and veterans about their lived experience.

I am grateful to those who have shared their stories, insights and experiences which have assisted me to build an understanding of the trends, risk and protective factors relevant to these tragic deaths. I will continue to work to understand the systemic failures and shortcomings that are contributing to the unacceptably high rate of veteran suicide. I will be doing this with a view to the future, seeking to identify actions that can be taken to avoid repeated tragedies.

I am committed to holding to account any party that fails to implement recommendations made to address this difficult issue, as well as testing and, where necessary working to adjust any recommendations that do not have the desired outcome to address Defence and Veteran Suicide.

If you, or someone you know needs support, you can contact:

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Media release – Andrew Wilkie MP Independent Member for Clark, 19 April 2021


The community will breathe a sigh of relief that finally the Federal Government has decided to hold a Royal Commission into veteran and serving member suicides. While the Government’s refusal for such an inquiry for so long is deeply lamentable, the announcement today is a tremendous outcome and one that promises to bring some understanding and justice to the many hundreds of veterans and serving members whose lives have ended by suicide.

There was always something terribly amiss and deeply troubling that the rate of suicide among veterans is twice the national average, and also that so many carefully screened serving members are also taking their own lives. Clearly there are serious systemic and cultural problems in the departments of Defence and Veterans Affairs, as well as in the Australian Defence Force. Only the jolt of a Royal Commission offers hope of getting to the bottom of these problems and preparing the groundwork for an ongoing National Commissioner.

The community expects the Government to stand up the Royal Commission as quickly as humanly possible, including the passage of any necessary legislation in the very next parliamentary sitting week.

Media release – Senator Jacqui Lambie, 19 April 2021

Royal commission gives veterans a chance at peace

Today veterans across the country can breathe a sigh of relief. We can finally let go of the weight we’ve been carrying on our shoulders, at least a little bit.

This royal commission is so desperately needed, but it can’t undo the damage that’s been done. It can’t bring back the people we’ve lost. It can’t mend the families who have been broken.

But it will give us a chance to heal. It will give us a chance at closure.

Veterans and their families have fought for years to make a royal commission happen. There are so many people who have been a part of that fight. I want to thank them all.

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I’m so grateful to you all. You know who you are.

This announcement is for you. It’s for anyone who has been touched by defence and veteran suicide — any parent, any mate, any family member who has lost a loved one.

It belongs to the serving and ex-serving members who couldn’t make it, and to the ones who were lucky to pull through.

There is a long way to go yet. This isn’t the end, this is day one.

But I know this news will give strength and hope to veterans and their families who are on their last legs. I’ll be standing with them, making sure they get the royal commission they need. I’ll give evidence beside them.

We can all rest a little easier tonight knowing that our time to be heard is coming. This is the first step to getting veterans the justice they deserve.

Media release – Returned & Services League (RSL), 19 April 2021


The Returned & Services League (RSL) reiterates its previous commitments to provide its full support for the Royal Commission established by the Federal Government to investigate the incidence of veteran and Defence personnel suicide.

RSL National President Major General Greg Melick said the organisation looked forward to providing input to the development of terms of reference, participate in hearings and continuing to provide advice and support to the Federal Government.

“The RSL and its veteran members will continue to provide support to find solutions that deal with the scourge of veterans’ suicide which impacts severely on the entire veteran community,” General Melick said.

“The issue of veterans’ mental health and veteran suicide is supremely important and must be addressed as a matter of urgency; the RSL are calling for immediate action with no further delay.

“As I have said on behalf of the RSL previously, less than one in four of the recommendations of the many previous inquiries into veterans’ mental health issues have been implemented, so the time for action is long-passed.

“While the suicide rate in the armed services is well below the national average, among veterans, it is four times the national average.

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“That is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue.”

General Melick said the terms of reference should be wide-ranging and seek to determine all the factors contributing to the poor mental health outcomes experience by veterans and the alarming incidence of suicide and attempted suicides. Veteran organisations like the RSL must be involved in establishing these.

“The sooner the Royal Commission is established, the sooner proper support can be provided to veterans and any interim recommendations should be implemented along the way, rather than awaiting a final report,” he said.

Media release – Brian Mitchell MP, Federal Member for Lyons – 19 April 2021


Federal Member for Lyons Brian Mitchell MP has welcomed today’s announcement of a Royal Commission into veterans and serving Defence personnel suicides.

The announcement follows a long campaign by veterans and families and friends impacted by suicide, supported by Labor, with more than 400 returned servicemen and servicewomen having taken their own lives in the past 20 years.

In March this year both the House of Representatives and the Senate voted for a royal commission to be held. Despite Government MPs and Senators also voting for the measure, Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused at the time to commit to calling one.

“The Prime Minister could and should have committed to this Royal Commission after the parliament took that historic vote,” Mr Mitchell said.

“I really do hope he has not just been sitting on this, waiting for Anzac Day to draw near so he can maximise his publicity.

“So yes, I am disappointed it took the Prime Minister this long to act but I am pleased we got there in the end,” Mr Mitchell said.

The Lyons MP was amongst those who publicly called for a royal commission to be held, telling the parliament he needed to be able to “look veterans in the eye and tell them that when the opportunity arose, I spoke up for them”.

Source: Tasmanian Times

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