The government has come under fire for its decision to invest oversight authority for the newly established royal commission’s consultation process in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Veterans’ advocacy group Voice of a Veteran (VOV) has criticised the Commonwealth government for its decision to appoint the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to oversee the consultation process for the Terms of Reference of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
In a statement, the group said the appointment “undermines” the process, claiming that the department has been “central to, if not the cause of, major mental and emotional trauma to veterans”.
VOV claimed the appointment would require many veterans to “return to the source of their abuse” and “describe their abuse to the abuser”.
“This is morally and ethically wrong,” VOV stressed.
As such, VOV has proposed the creation of an alternative consultation process overseen by an independent body.
“In order to set and maintain the legitimacy of this process and harness its true potential it needs to be overseen by an independent body that is trusted by the veteran and veteran family communities,” the group stated.
VOV has invited interested stakeholders to participate in the process, which would only involve individuals and groups who previously supported the establishment of the royal commission.
“This process will be conducted completely independent to any of the institutions or organisations that have openly denied the need for a royal commission, such as the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the National RSL,” VOV added.
According to VOV, the process would “run parallel” to the timeline directed by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and would include physical and digital symposiums to maximise participation.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we will do whatever is needed to ensure that it is done right from the start, the very first time,” VOV concluded.
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.