A report released this week outlining the rate of suicide among current and former serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel reaffirms that suicide prevention must be a matter of national priority.
The Albanese Labor Government is committed to supporting the mental health and welfare of ADF personnel, veterans and families and is taking immediate action, expanding access to Open Arms counselling services in the Melbourne CBD.
Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Matt Thistlethwaite, officially opened the Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling offices on Collins Street today, encouraging veterans and their families to contact the service for support.
“Open Arms was founded by veterans for veterans,” Minister Thistlethwaite said.
“Veterans have given so much to their country, but service can take its toll on the mental health of our veterans and the families that support them.
“Many of the staff at Open Arms are veterans, or come from military families, so when someone contacts Open Arms, they can be confident they are going to be supported by someone who gets it, who understands the military experience.
“Open Arms provides mental health support for defence personnel, veterans and families, through free and confidential face-to-face counselling to enhance mental health and wellbeing.
“They also offer treatment programs, workshops, peer support and a range of self-help tools to the veteran community.”
This year Open Arms is celebrating 40 years of service to the veteran community.
National President of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, Max Ball, reflected on the role all Vietnam veterans played in the establishment of the service.
“I believe Vietnam veterans are very proud of the legacy they have left with the counselling service,” Mr Ball said.
“All Vietnam veterans are conscious that they were the driving force behind this magnificent service that is provided widely to all veterans and their families today.”
Established in 1982 as the Vietnam Veterans’ Counselling Service (VVCS), Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling has grown to over 500 staff across 35 centres with a network of more than 1300 outreach counsellors.
Since 1982, Open Arms has provided more than 2 million free mental health counselling sessions to over 300,000 veterans and veteran family members.
Last year more than 40,000 veterans and family members received assistance from Open Arms, and in Melbourne Open Arms provided over 10,000 counselling sessions.
To learn more about Open Arms visit: https://youtu.be/1bQPKBW_ZsM