A direct channel has been opened for veterans unwilling to lodge submissions via the Department of Veterans Affairs as part of the royal commission’s consultation process.
Last week, veterans voiced concerns over 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.
Veterans’ advocacy group Voice of a Veteran (VOV) 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”.
The group proposed the creation of an alternative consultation process overseen by an independent body.
However, in response to such concerns, the government has amended the process, announcing it would enable veterans, family members and service personnel to send their submissions directly through the Attorney-General’s website.
“[I] recognise that some veterans may not be comfortable engaging in this process through DVA,” Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said.
“The government has listened to the concerns of these veterans who don’t wish to provide their input to DVA as part of this process and I have provided this feedback to the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, who has agreed to accommodate those concerns and ensure that all voices can be heard.”
Stakeholders are expected to lodge submissions by 21 May 2021.
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.