The Albanese Government has responded to the 13 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide’s Interim Report.
The Royal Commission’s Interim Report is the culmination of the inquiry’s work to date, encompassing over 2000 submissions, 178 private sessions and testimony from 208 witnesses.
The Interim Report’s 13 recommendations fall within three key themes: improving the claims process, Royal Commission administration and access to information by loved ones.
The government has implemented one of the recommendations already (recommendation 5), agreed to nine, agreed in principle to one, and noted two others.
The government agreed with the commissioners that urgent and immediate action was required.
Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles thanked the commissioners, Nick Kaldas, James Dougla and Peggy Brown for their work in producing the interim report and for their ongoing work on the Royal Commission.
“We also thank those who have contributed to the inquiry, we appreciate the courage and bravery it takes to share your experiences,” Minister Marles said.
“We encourage anyone who has insights on the issues confronting our Defence personnel and veterans, to come forward and give evidence to the Royal Commission publicly or in private session.”
“Submissions remain open until 13 October 2023.
“The death by suicide of any Australian, including our veterans and current serving Australian Defence Force members, is a tragedy.
“It is devastating that Australia has lost more serving and former-serving personnel to suicide over the past 20 years than through operations over the same period in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“The Royal Commission’s recommendations will assist in prioritising the necessary and important work ahead to better the lives of defence personnel, veterans and families.”
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Matt Keogh said there was no doubt some veterans and families had not had a good experience dealing with Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and had not been able to access the support they deserved – “for that, we are sorry”.
“Our government is committed to the task of saving lives and ensuring a better future for our Defence and veteran communities,” Minister Keogh said.
“After years of reports, too many deaths, too many lives changed for the worse and endless discussion, it’s time to get on with it.”
If you are a currently serving member of our ADF or family member, you can reach out to the ADF all-hours support line, available 24/7 on 1800 628 036.
If you are a veteran or family member you can also access Open Arms veterans and families counselling service on 1800 011 046.