Stakeholders have been invited to lodge submissions ahead of the commencement of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
The Commonwealth government has officially opened consultation for the recently announced Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, inviting veterans and their families, ex-service organisations, states and territories, peak bodies and other interested stakeholders to provide input for the preliminary terms of reference.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester noted the importance of participation from all sections of the defence community.
“Over the coming weeks I will be undertaking a public consultation process to ensure the royal commission is focused and based on the experiences and perspectives of those who have been impacted by Defence and veteran suicide,” Minister Chester said.
“Any member of the community or any organisation is able to provide their input regarding the broad themes released on Monday, 19 April and I would encourage them to provide their feedback.
“As part of this process it is important that all state and territories are involved and I have written to my counterparts in each jurisdiction to seek their assistance in consulting with the community.”
He added: “We must all work together to ensure that this royal commission can start promptly and put us on the path to a better understanding of suicide in the serving and ex-serving community, and importantly, how we can continue to improve the supports available to service men and women, and their families.”
Feedback from the consultation process will be submitted to the Attorney-General’s Department, which is then expected to draft a more detailed terms of reference for the public hearings.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison officially launched the royal commission on Monday, set to examine the “systemic issues” and “common themes” surrounding confirmed and suspected suicides., while also reviewing the experiences of at-risk members and veterans.
A National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention has been tasked with supporting the commission and overseeing the implementation of prospective recommendations.
The announcement follows the passing of a motion in both houses of Parliament last month in support of the commission. This was in response to active lobbying from the families and friends of suicide victims.
ADF members and their families can contact the Defence All-hours Support Line, a confidential telephone service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 1800 628 036. Defence families can also contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.
Safe Zone Support (1800 142 072) is also available as a free and anonymous counselling line for current and former ADF personnel and their families. The service is available 24/7 and provides access to specialised counsellors with an understanding of military culture and experience.