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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:

  • Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
  • Open Arms (current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel and their families are able to seek this free and confidential support) on 1800 011 046
  • ADF Mental Health All-hours Support Line (for current serving Australian Defence Force personnel and their families) on 1800 628 036.