Leader of the Veterans Party Jeremy Davey has called on the Liberal and Labor parties to commit to taking immediate action upon the opening of the 45th Parliament to address suicide prevention among Australia’s First Responders, namely Police, Paramedics and Fire Fighters.
Mr Davey confirmed today that the Veterans Party had been undertaking confidential discussions with employee associations who indicated the risk of mental illness and suicide was prevalent amongst First Responders.
“From the outset, the Veterans Party has indicated that we will fight for the wellbeing of Australia’s First Responders and seek parity of entitlements amongst all services at a national level,” Mr Davey said.
“This objective has led to us having discussions with a number of employee associations.
“These organisations are concerned that if it became known to the relevant services that they had been disclosing disturbing statistics then they may be kept at a distance by those services, potentially restricting their ability to advocate for their members.
“It is for this reason that we have given those organisations an assurance of maintaining their confidentiality.”
The Royal Australian Navy veteran acknowledged that the stresses faced by First Responders could substantially differ from those experienced by members of the Australian Defence Force, and therefore required an effective prevention program that was tailored to their needs.
“Our First Responders face numerous dangers domestically every single time they clock on for duty.
“In our current security climate both First Responders and their families are well aware that the overall risk to their safety on duty has markedly increased.
“Too many First Responders are suffering debilitating mental illness or have taken their own lives, with a number citing an institutional stigma that discourages them from seeking help,” Mr Davey said.
The Veterans Party leader said it was essential that First Responders were provided with the best possible services to deal with mental illness, and ultimately prevent serving and veteran First Responders taking their own lives.
“Frankly, there is no time to stuff around with this.
“I call on both the Coalition and Labor to commit to funds for the establishment of a First Responders Suicide Prevention Program (FRSPP) during this campaign, and that may be achievable by sacrificing a ‘pork barreling’ announcement such as a new sports stadium,” Mr Davey said.