26 September 2023

ADF members running out of Commission time

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Current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) have six months left to make a submission to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

The deadline comes as the inquiry announces dates for its public hearings in Adelaide, from 17 July, and Melbourne from 28 August.

Chair of the Royal Commission, Nick Kaldas said people had until 13 October this year to make a submission to the Royal Commission and help make a difference.

Commissioner Kaldas encouraged written, audio and video submissions about all aspects of military life, recruitment, training, deployment, culture, injury management, transition into civilian life and the DVA claims process.

“Now is your chance to help fix this national tragedy – we’re not going to get another crack at this in our lifetime,” Commissioner Kaldas said.

“Every story is a vital piece of the puzzle that will help us improve the lives of serving and ex-serving ADF members and their families,” he said.

“We want to know the good and the bad – and any suggestions you have for change.

“By gaining a full picture of service life, we can identify the risk and mitigating factors for suicide and make recommendations that will result in happier, healthier servicemen and women – and ultimately, a stronger and more resilient Defence force.”

Commissioner Kaldas said counselling and other support services were available to anyone wishing to engage with the Royal Commission.

He said that so far, the Royal Commission had received more than 3,350 submissions from serving and ex-serving ADF members, family and friends with lived experience, advocacy groups and experts.

The Commission Chair said common themes had emerged from the submissions, including ADF leadership and culture such as incidents of inappropriate behaviour, such as abuse, bullying, harassment, and physical and sexual assaults; Stigma related to mental health issues and the reporting of physical injuries; Difficulties around transitioning from Defence to civilian life; Lack of continuity of health care services after service; and Complaints about the Department of Veterans’ Affairs claims process, including negative interactions with staff.

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