Royal Commission to focus recruitment and training at Wagga Wagga public hearing

Senior representatives of some of Australia’s military recruit schools will give evidence at a public hearing of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, which begins on Monday at the Mercure Hotel, Wagga Wagga.

The hearing will examine issues involving training at Australian Defence Force recruit schools including at RAAF Base Wagga, 1st Recruit Training Battalion Kapooka, Royal Australian Navy Recruit School, HMAS Cerberus and the Australian Defence Force Academy.

The hearing will also feature evidence from people with lived experience of suicide or suicidal behaviours.

Commission Chair Nick Kaldas said recent visits by the Commission to bases, including Blamey Barracks, Kapooka, had been invaluable to the inquiry.

“Each visit is an opportunity to speak with personnel about life on base, to better understand their experiences and any pressures they face,” Commissioner Kaldas said.

We’re able to see firsthand the training environment and how the welfare of recruits is managed during their time on base.”

RAAF Base Wagga and the Army Recruit Training Centre at Kapooka are responsible for training more than 5,000 trainees a year.

“We know that people embarking on a career in the military will face specific challenges such as being isolated from support networks and adjusting to a new regime. It is a significant time for recruits and experiences at a training facility are formative.”

More than four per cent of Wagga Wagga’s population is employed in the Defence industry, according to the latest ABS census data.

The Royal Commission is aware of recent flooding in Wagga Wagga and the surrounding Riverina district and extend our thoughts to anyone affected by the floods.

The eighth public hearing will run for four days, finishing on 1 December.

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