Monday 19 April 2021
Today’s announcement of a Royal Commission into Veteran and Serving Defence Personnel Suicides is not only a huge win for the community, who have been calling for greater support and for government to address the mental health crisis that is facing our veterans, but also a relief to the families who have been searching for answers.
Australian Greens Veterans spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John said that it had been a hard slog to get to this point and that a lot more work needed to be done to ensure that the terms of reference for the Royal Commission met the needs of the community.
“Anybody who has spoken with a family that has been touched by suicide will know the pain that they feel and the desperate, urgent need for answers they all share about why so many of our veterans are being driven to take these actions,” Steele-John said.
“Understandably there are still many in to the community who are suspicious of today’s announcement as they have been cast aside and ignored by the Morrison government for so long.
“It is incumbent on the Morrison government to earn the trust of the veteran community and not simply assume that they now have it.
“We know from a report into Veteran suicides, released last year, that our veteran community is in crisis. Ex-serving men are 21% more likely to die by suicide and ex-serving women were more than twice as likely to die by suicide than the rest of the community.
“We must do better by the people who have served, and continue to serve, in our defence forces. We continue to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on new weapons yet we ignore the long lasting trauma and impact that war has on the people who have served in our name.
“I would like to acknowledge the strength and commitment of advocates around the country, like Julie-Ann Finney, and my Senate colleague, Jacqui Lambie, for her dedication to this cause.
“This is a win for you, for your family and for every single Australian who has sadly lost a family member or a friend to suicide.”