Government response to Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide Interim Report

The Hon Richard Marles MP
Acting Prime Minister
Minister for Defence

The Hon Matt Keogh MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel

The Albanese Government has today 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 2,000 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 agrees with the Commissioners that urgent and immediate action is required.

We thank the Commissioners, Nick Kaldas APM (Chair), the Honourable James Douglas QC and Dr Peggy Brown AO 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.

We encourage anyone that 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.

Quotes attributable to Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, the Hon Richard Marles MP:

“The death by suicide of any Australian, including our veterans and current serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) members, is a tragedy.

“It is devastating that Australia has lost more serving and former serving personnel to suicide over the last 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.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel, the Hon Matt Keogh MP:

“There’s no doubt some veterans and families have not had a good experience dealing with Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and have not been able to access the support they deserve. 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. 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 access Open Arms veterans and families counselling service on 1800 011 046.

Media contacts

Kate Hanns (Minister Marles’ Office): +61 497 208 966
Stephanie Mathews (Minister Keogh’s Office): +61 407 034 485

Authorised by The Hon Matt Keogh MP.

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 Defence Health Portal. Defence Member and Family Helpline provides support for Defence families on 1800 624 608