The Federal Government has opened the terms of reference for a Royal Commission into Defence and Veterans Suicide.
The probe will look into the causes of suicide, as well as protective factors for Defence members who have not taken their lives.
As of 2017, 419 current and former ADF members died by suicide, which is double the rate of the national average.
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement.
“The Government has finally listened to the voices of veterans and their families who wanted a thorough and independent investigation," said the Centre Alliance’s Veterans Affairs Spokesperson.
“In setting the terms of reference for the Commission, I earnestly hope it will be adequately resourced. The commissioner must not be hamstrung by meagre resourcing."
Premier’s Advocate for Suicide Prevention and Community Resilience, Dan Cregan, said the Royal Commission is a crucial step forward for the veteran community nationwide.
“Every death by suicide is devastating for family, friends, colleagues and, in many cases, whole communities and we know that the veteran community have approximately half the suicide rate of the national average whilst serving, but almost double after they leave,” Mr Cregan, the Member for Kavel said.
South Australian veteran Nathan Bolton, who was a special operations engineer deploying twice to Afghanistan as part of the Australian Special Forces and member of the Premier’s Council on Suicide Prevention, said the announcement provides hope for future prevention and support.
“I acknowledge my fellow veterans whose lives have been lost to suicide, those who suffer suicidal distress and PTSD and their families, friends and colleagues that have been impacted,” Mr Bolton said.
“We can’t help everybody today, but we can pre-empt and support all our defence force personnel of the future by giving them the training and education to serve in the ADF and then reintegrating them back into society healthy, fulfilled and backed by an incredible experience."
Veterans SA has compiled a list of help services on their website at veteranssa.gov.au which people are encouraged to access and share with their networks should support be needed.
If you are concerned about the health or wellbeing of yourself of a loved one, seek support and information by accessing one of the following services:
- Open Arms 1800 011 046 openarms.gov.au
- Standby Support After Suicide (Supporting Country SA) – Phone 0437 752 458
- Living Beyond Suicide (Supporting Adelaide Metro) – Phone 1300 761 193
- Lifeline 13 11 14 lifeline.org.au
- Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 beyondblue.org.au
- Safe Zone Support 1800 142 072
- Mental Health Triage (Able to speak to a mental health clinician) 131465
- Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 kidshelpline.com.au
- Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Photo at top supplied by Australian Government