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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel

MEDIA RELEASE

8 July 2019

Mental health and suicide prevention a welcome national priority

MINISTER for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester today welcomed the appointment of Christine Morgan as the new National Suicide Prevention Adviser.

Ms Morgan, appointed by the Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP, will drive a whole-of-government approach to suicide prevention, while ensuring prevention services reach the communities that need them.

“When it comes to veteran suicide, the only acceptable number for me is zero — the only acceptable number for the Australian people is zero,” Mr Chester said.

“This Government is committed to putting veterans and their families first, and Ms Morgan’s appointment is another step forward in our continued focus on mental health and suicide, particularly for those most at risk.

“Recently, I convened the Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit at Parliament House, where representatives from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), Australian Defence Force (ADF) leaders, ex-service organisations, and medical professionals met to help set the veterans’ mental health agenda.

“From the Summit, we identified four critical priority areas — health care, transition, partnerships and engagement, communication and education — which will guide the preparation of the National Action Plan and a renewed Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing strategy while we continue to consult with veterans and their families.

“I look forward to engaging with Ms Morgan to ensure we are doing all we can in preventing suicide in the ex-service community.”

The Government provides more than $230 million a year towards veteran mental health, as part of more than $11 billion for veterans in this year’s Budget.

The Government has ensured all veterans can access free mental health care for life and expanded the Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling service, which provides professional support to veterans and their families. This support is needs-based, uncapped and available to any veteran who has served a single day in the Australian Defence Force.

Almost $5 billion is invested in mental health services each year across Australia, and the National Suicide Prevention Adviser will assess existing suicide prevention strategies to identify gaps. Any immediate steps the government can take to improve coordination and delivery will be delivered to the Prime Minister by the end of the year.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Rachel Tharratt: 02 6277 7820
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466

Office of the Hon Darren Chester, Canberra ACT

Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au