Defence and Veteran Suicide Royal Commission – Public Consultation
Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide
On 19 April 2021, the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, announced the Australian Government would recommend to the Governor-General the establishment of a Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
The Royal Commission is expected to examine the systemic issues and any common themes and past deaths by suicide of Australian Defence Force members and veterans and the experience of members and veterans who may continue to be at risk of suicide.
This includes all aspects of service in the Australian Defence Force and the experience of those transitioning; the availability and quality of health and support services; pre-service and post-service issues for members and veterans; members’ and veterans’ social and family contexts, such as family breakdown, as well as housing and employment issues for members and veterans.
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel, the Hon Darren Chester MP, is leading a public consultation process to inform the Terms of Reference. The Attorney-General's Department is assisting with this consultation process. All feedback provided to either the Department of Veterans' Affairs or using the feedback form will be considered by the Attorney-General's Department as the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission are finalised.
The Royal Commission will have the full range of compulsory powers available to it such as to summon witnesses and hold public hearings, take evidence and compel the production of documents and witness statements.
Themes for consultation
The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide Terms of Reference will be determined in consultation with the defence and veteran community and states and territories. The consultation is expected to cover the following themes:
- Systemic issues and analysis of the contributing risk factors relevant to defence and veteran death by suicide, including:
- Contribution of pre-service, service (including training), transition and post-service issues
- The relevance of issues such as service, posting history and rank of the defence member or veteran
- The manner of the recruitment of the person into the Australian Defence Force
- The manner in which a person transitioned from the Australian Defence Force
- The availability, quality and effectiveness of health, wellbeing and support services
- How information about individuals is shared by and within the government.
- How matters of individuals’ mental and physical health are captured during enlistment and during and after service
- The quality and availability of support services for families, friends and colleagues affected by a defence and veteran death by suicide
- The risk factors of defence members and veterans who have attempted or contemplated suicide or have other lived experiences of suicide
- The protective and rehabilitative factors for defence members and veterans who have attempted or contemplated suicide or have other lived experiences of suicide
- The engagement of defence members and veterans with Commonwealth, State or Territory Governments about support services, claims or entitlements
The Royal Commission will be asked to make any recommendations, including recommendations about any policy, legislative, administrative or structural reforms.
The Royal Commission will be asked to have regard to:
- Previous relevant reports and inquiries
- The work of the interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention
- The support available to members and veterans of other defence forces, particularly in Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States
- The role of government and non-government organisations
- Support services for families and others impacted by defence and veteran death by suicide
- Opportunities to promote the understanding of suicide risks and protective factors in the defence and general community
The Royal Commission will not be required to inquire into matters that it is satisfied have been dealt with by other inquiries, investigations or criminal or civil proceedings. Further, it will not be required to make findings of civil or criminal wrongdoing or findings about individual defence and veteran deaths by suicide.
The Royal Commission will be asked to focus on systemic issues, recognising that they will be informed by individual experiences and may need to make referrals to appropriate authorities.
The Royal Commission will be asked to recognise that its inquiries, including its findings and recommendations, will provide a foundation for the future work of the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.
How to provide feedback
The Royal Commission has not yet been formally established at this time and, as such, the department is not in a position to provide correspondence to the Royal Commission. Processes for engagement with the Royal Commission, including opportunities to make submissions, will be determined by the Royal Commission once established, and will be widely advertised.
Feedback from the consultation process, including feedback received through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs or using the feedback form, will be provided to the Attorney-General and the Attorney-General’s Department. After the consultation period, the Attorney-General’s Department will draft the Terms of Reference and provide administrative support to the Royal Commission.
This consultation process only seeks input to inform the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission. Feedback should not include personal stories nor experiences. The Office of the National Commissioner continues to hear stories from families, serving and ex-serving members who have been affected by defence member and veteran deaths by suicide. Please visit the Office of the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention website for more information.
Feedback closes at 5pm on Friday 21 May 2021.
Use of your information
The information you give us will help to inform development of the Terms of Reference. It will only be used for this purpose.
We may publish your feedback unless you ask us not to. Please indicate if you do not wish for your feedback to be published when you complete your form. Alternatively, you can ask us to publish your feedback anonymously.
We will not publish your feedback if we consider (for any reason) that it should not be made public. We reserve the right to redact, or leave unpublished, any submission or part of a submission that we consider to be offensive or not relevant to this consultation, or where it would be inappropriate to publish the information.
We will collect personal information so that we can verify submissions are not duplicates and to provide advice to government. If you wish to remain anonymous or use a pseudonym, let us know when you submit your form.
Crisis Assistance: This webpage contains content about suicide and may be distressing for some people. If you or someone else needs help, please call:
- Triple zero (000) if you need immediate help or feel like you may hurt yourself
- Open Arms - Veterans & Families Counselling on 1800 011 046
- ADF Mental Health All-hours Support Line on 1800 628 036
- Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
In addition, anyone who has served even one day in the ADF may be eligible for free mental health treatment for life. Known as non-liability health care, it is available to serving or ex-serving personnel whether or not there’s a link between their condition and their military service.