Suicide Prevention Australia, Mental Health Australia, and Relationships Australia recently made a joint submission to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide (Royal Commission). Our views and submission were informed by our member organisations and by people with a lived experience of suicide and mental health challenges, and their families, carers and supporters.
The submission strongly supported the establishment of an independent, unbiased entity to continue the Royal Commission’s work. The entity would be able to ensure government action towards reducing the unacceptably high rate of suicide in our Defence and veteran communities and to ensure that recommendations are fully implemented and have the desired impact. The entity must have the authority to hold the Government, the Australian Defence Force and the Defence Veterans Association to account.
The entity must also be able to collect and report on data in relation to suicide and suicidality among Defence personnel and veterans, and to develop new recommendations for action across policy, legislative, administrative, or structural reforms. It is vital that the entity can directly report to Government, at a minimum on an annual basis to Parliament.
We propose that the focus of the entity is expanded to include a focus on health and support of families and carers of Defence members and veterans. It is critical that the entity supports the families of Defence members and veterans as we know that families are a key part of providing support, and face challenges themselves.
The establishment of a new entity presents a unique opportunity for real change. We applaud the Royal Commission’s efforts to date and believe the proposed entity is fundamental to improving the health and wellbeing of Defence members, veterans and their families, now and into the future.
Read our full submission and response to the Royal Commission’s specific consultation questions here.