The Hon Andrew Gee MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has opened in Brisbane today, with a ceremonial hearing beginning the proceedings.
On Monday, current and ex-service personnel and their families will begin sharing their very personal stories in Brisbane at the first of many public hearings to be held around the country.
Over coming months we will hear many devastating and tragic accounts from current Defence personnel, veterans and those who have lost loved ones to suicide. These will be extremely difficult to hear, but the nation must hear them.
My hope is that this Royal Commission will be a watershed moment in how we look after our service personnel and our veterans, now and into the future.
It is a crucially important body of national work, and I hope that it will be a catalyst for positive, lasting change and reducing the incidence of suicide in the Defence and veteran community.
I look forward to reviewing the Interim Report in August 2022 and a Final Report in July 2023, but I will not be waiting until then to get cracking on important reforms.
Our servicemen and women and their families have sacrificed so much for our nation and we have a moral duty to ensure we give them all the support they need and deserve.
To achieve what it must, the Royal Commission needs to hear from as many people as possible.
It is not too late to make a submission, and I encourage everyone with a personal experience to share it. You can also do so anonymously and without leaving your contact details.
The Australian Government has established a free, independent legal advisory service to help people who want to engage with the Royal Commission. Free counselling and support services are also available.
This has been a tough year for many in our veteran community, with the additional combined stress of COVID-19 restrictions and the Australian withdrawal from Afghanistan. I expect the Royal Commission hearings and the associated media coverage will cause further distress for many.
Anyone who needs support, or who knows someone doing it tough, should reach out to Open Arms Veterans & Families Counselling on 1800 011 046. Those wishing to remain anonymous can contact Safe Zone Support on 1800 142 072. Calls to Safe Zone are confidential and never recorded.
More information about the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, including how to contribute and where to get support, is available on the website.
Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling provides 24/7 free confidential crisis support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families on 1800 011 046 or the Open Arms website. Safe Zone Support provides anonymous counselling on 1800 142 072. Defence All-Hours Support Line provides support for ADF personnel on 1800 628 036 or the Department of Defence website. Defence Member and Family Helpline provides support for Defence families on 1800 624 608.