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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel

MEDIA RELEASE

Monday, 16 March 2020

Understanding and preventing veteran suicide

All governments are committed to ensuring we are doing all we can to prevent suicide among our serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel following the recent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said the agreement by state and territory leaders to support the establishment of a permanent and independent National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention to inquire into all suspected veteran and ADF suicides is a significant step forward in tackling this serious and complex national issue.

“The mental health and wellbeing of our current and former ADF members is an issue of national and enduring importance, and only by working together can we make meaningful change,” Mr Chester said.

“Leaders at the COAG meeting have asked the Council of Attorneys-General to finalise arrangements, in consultation with chief coroners, to ensure we are doing all we can to understand and prevent suicide in the serving and ex-serving population.

“I thank the members of COAG for giving this issue the attention it deserves and committing to delivering for our ADF members, veterans and their families.”

The National Commissioner will have the enduring powers and resources, formalised by terms of reference, to investigate suicides and related issues as they arise in the future, and also to review past cases, supported by the ability to conduct public hearings, receive submissions, and include families in the process should they wish. Importantly, these are ongoing powers not restricted to a one-off inquiry as would be the case with a royal commission.

For any current or former ADF member who may be struggling with their mental health, help is available. Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling provides support and counselling to current ADF members, veterans and their families and can be contacted 24/7 on 1800 011 046.

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