Taking action to improve veterans’ mental health

Thursday, 1 January 1970

The Hon Stuart Robert MP

Minister for Veterans' Affairs

Minister for Human Services

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

Tackling the mental health challenges faced by veterans and their families is a priority for the Australian Government, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Stuart Robert, said today during an address to the RSL WA Branch Annual State Congress.

“Today, we mark World Mental Health Day and the start of Veterans’ Health Week by releasing two documents that clearly set out what the Government is doing to support ex-servicemen and women to improve their health, and make and keep connections within their communities,” Mr Robert said.

The Social Health Strategy 2015-2023 for the Veteran and Ex-service Community addresses some of the particular health challenges that former Australian Defence Force members face after they transition into civilian life.

These include the risk of social isolation, the need for employment opportunities post-separation, the risk of weight gain, a higher prevalence of smoking compared to the broader population, and particular mental health risks. 

“We want to prevent illness where we can through activities that raise awareness of healthy behaviours,” Mr Robert said.

“Supporting initiatives that keep people connected with their friends, families and communities is also a priority. Social connectedness helps prevent mental illness and helps people with their recovery.”

“This includes the annual Veterans’ Health Week, from 10–18 October, which this year focuses on mental wellbeing. Each year, veterans, war widows, widowers, current and ex-Australian Defence Force members and their families around Australia come together to participate in events celebrating the importance of healthy living.”

Minister Robert also announced the release of the Mental and Social Health Action Plan 2015 and 2016, which sets out the actions the Australian Government will undertake in the next two years to deliver both the Social Health Strategy and the previously released Veteran Mental Health Strategy 2013-2023.

“I am pleased to say we are already delivering on many of the key milestones outlined in the Action Plan, especially early intervention initiatives,” Mr Robert said.

“We have expanded access to the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service and also to arrangements under which DVA will pay for treatment for certain mental health conditions for many ex-serving personnel, whatever the cause. We have developed online mental health tools and smartphone apps to support younger veterans, and online training and information resources to better support mental health professionals.

“We are also introducing a $10 million case coordination initiative to support veterans with complex needs, including mental health conditions and we are making sure Defence personnel are better supported with information about DVA as they transition into civilian life.”

For more information about the Social Health Strategy for the Veteran and Ex-service Community 2015–2023 and Mental and Social Health Action Plan 2015 and 2016,go to http://www.dva.gov.au/about-dva/publications/health-publications/veteran-mental-and-social-health-strategies.

For information about Veterans’ Health Week 2015, including details of events around Australia, go to http://www.dva.gov.au/health-and-wellbeing/health-events/veterans-health-week-2015.

Media Contacts:
Richard Briedis (Minister Robert’s Office) 0477 391 174
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS)
can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling.
Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546)