Government welcomes Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide Interim Report

Thursday, 11 August 2022

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 Australian Government welcomes the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide by Commissioners Nick Kaldas APM, the Hon James Douglas QC and Dr Peggy Brown AO.

The Government will carefully consider all the recommendations contained in the report and issue a full response in due course, but the Defence and veterans’ community should know that this Government is committed to taking action to reducing incidents of suicide in the Defence and veteran communities.

The Report’s recommendations focus on improving the transition to civilian life, access to support services, simplifying veterans legislation, improving access to information for loved ones, improving the claims system and removing the backlog.

There is significant work that needs to be undertaken to further reform the systems within Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to improve the support for personnel, veterans and families.

As the Royal Commission continues its inquiry, the Government, Defence and DVA will continue to support the Royal Commission to carry out its important work to further understand the complex issue of suicide, reduce that risk and ensure a better future for our defence and veteran communities.

The Australian Government will review the recommendations closely and provide a formal Government response to each of these shortly.

The Royal Commission will continue its inquiry with its final report due by 24 June 2024.

Anyone wishing to make a submission to the Royal Commission is encouraged to do so by 13 October 2023.

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling on 1800 011 046

Defence All-hours Support Line (ASL) on 1800 628 036

Quotes attributable to the Acting Prime Minister, 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.

“Sadly, there is no simple or single solution.

“However, 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.

“There are some hard truths in this report, but we can’t ignore them.

“There have to be a lesson in how we push forward and create the change which is necessary.”

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

“There was an obvious and pressing need for this Royal Commission to be held.

“Australia has lost more serving and formally serving personnel to suicide than in operations through the 20 years of conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“That’s why we strongly supported calls for this Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide while we were in Opposition, something the previous government resisted for some time.

“Unfortunately, we have known for a long time that the rate of suicide amongst our veteran community is significantly higher than across the broader Australian community. That’s why we joined with the families who have lost loved ones to call for the establishment of this Royal Commission.

“It is clear that a number of recommendations from this Interim Report call for the Government to get on with recommendations that have been made time and time again in previous inquiries, highlighting the lack of action from the previous Government. It is vital these are addressed as a priority now.”

“The Interim Report has given us a clear indication of the areas that require immediate attention. I will be working closely with my Ministerial colleagues, as well as Defence, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and ComSuper to ensure that we promptly respond to these recommendations that will make a difference to the lives of defence personnel, veterans and families.”

“This Government has already commenced a number of initiatives that are in line with the report’s recommendations, including increasing the staffing and resourcing available to DVA to reduce the current claims backlog that blew out under the previous Government.”

“This report will be confronting for some people in our ADF and veteran community.

“It’s important for everyone to know that there is immediate support available for anyone effected by the findings of the report or the ongoing conduct of the Royal Commission.

"I encourage anyone struggling to reach out, there are people who are available to call and to listen.”

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Media contacts

Kate Hanns (Marles): 0497 208 966

Stephanie Mathews (Keogh): 0407 034 485