Letter to the Editor — Look out for your mates

Monday, June 22 2020

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

Dear Editor,

This month on 27 June it will be PTSD Awareness Day and I urge all Australians to look out for their mates who may be experiencing poor mental health and encourage them to seek support and treatment as early as possible.

While service in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is an overwhelmingly positive experience for most, the unique nature of military service can have an impact on the mental health of our current and former ADF personnel and their families.

Current and former ADF personnel and their families have access to free and confidential counselling and support through Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling. This life-saving support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1800 011 046. There are also valuable tools, apps and information on the Open Arms website for people seeking support for themselves and others, including a new online Suicide Prevention program that will help you start a conversation with someone you may be worried about. Open Arms was founded by our Vietnam veterans and it is their enduring legacy to ensure all Australian veterans and their families have access to free mental health support.

In addition, current ADF members and their families can contact the Defence All-hours support line, a confidential service that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1800 628 036.

Through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), veterans can access free mental health care for any mental health condition. This is available for life and doesn’t need to be linked to military service. I urge any Australian veteran who needs help to reach out to DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).

By connecting people with these services to start with, it can open the path to recovery. If you are an ADF member, veteran, or a family member experiencing mental health challenges, there is support available to you. If you are a friend of one of these groups and have concerns, start a conversation and get your mates some help. Mental health is everyone’s business and together we can all make a difference and help someone get the support they require.

Yours sincerely,

Darren Chester

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Minister for Defence Personnel

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