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Fact Sheet - Meetings with the Office of the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.

  • Fact sheet
Publication date

What is the status of the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention (the National Commissioner)?

  • Dr Bernadette Boss CSC has been appointed as interim National Commissioner and commenced duties on 16 November 2020.
  • Legislation that would establish the National Commissioner has not yet passed the Parliament. The relevant Bills are currently before the Senate.
  • If the relevant Bills are passed by the Parliament and become law they would give the National Commissioner Royal Commission like powers. This would mean that legal protections apply to those who interact with the National Commissioner.

In the absence of legislation what is the interim National Commissioner currently doing?

Is the interim National Commissioner independent?

  • The interim National Commissioner is conducting her work independently of the government. This means the interim National Commissioner decides who she will meet with, what information she will request and how she will undertake her work.
  • However, the National Commissioner will not be legally independent from the government until the relevant Bills become law.

What records will be made in relation to contact with the National Commissioner?

  • A record of the contact will be made. This will be used to inform the interim National Commissioner's work. This record may take the form of a transcript of a discussion, a summary of a discussion or some other form.
  • The interim National Commissioner may include de-identified key points or statements from contact with stakeholders, including for example, in her reports to Government or other publications.

Will information I provide be confidential?

  • The relevant Bills allow most records created by the National Commissioner to be exempt from the operation of the Freedom of Information Act (the FOI Act). 2 of 2
  • Until the relevant Bills become law records relating to meetings may be sought under the FOI Act.
  • The FOI Act allows the Australian community to apply for access to documents held by the Government. Some records may be exempt from production under the FOI Act including sensitive personal information.
  • Information provided on a confidential basis may be exempt from production under the FOI Act. You may wish to indicate that you are providing the information on a confidential basis. However information that's provided on a confidential basis must still satisfy certain tests for it to be exempt under the FOI Act (for example it cannot be public information).

Can I provide classified information to the interim National Commissioner?

  • Former (or current) members of the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Public Service should not disclose classified information (for example information about defence operational matters).
  • The relevant Bills provide for a framework for 'operationally sensitive information' and 'intelligence information' to be disclosed to the National Commissioner.
  • If you indicate that you wish to share classified information with the National Commissioner, once the relevant Bills become law the Office of the National Commissioner can contact you concerning how classified information may be provided to the National Commissioner.
  • If you believe that there is a need for you to share classified information with the interim National Commissioner you should contact the Office to discuss via enquiries@ncdvsp.gov.au or 1800 570 819.