The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide is urging anyone who may find the Christmas and New Year period difficult to reach out to support networks or seek urgent support, if needed.
Commission Chair Nick Kaldas said the holidays could understandably be an emotional time for those following the inquiry.
“If thinking about matters that relate to the Royal Commission causes you distress, we urge you to please seek help from any number of services available,” Commissioner Kaldas said.
The Royal Commission’s offices will be closed from Friday 23 December 2022 to Tuesday 3 January 2023; however, a number of crisis and community support services will be operating around-the-clock over the holiday period. Their details can be found on the Support page.
Commissioner Kaldas thanked those who contributed to the inquiry’s work during 2022, describing it as a “busy but productive year”.
The Royal Commission has now received more than 3,000 submissions from serving and ex-serving ADF members, family and friends with lived experience, advocacy groups and experts.
The inquiry has heard from more than 250 witnesses and held 278 hour-long private sessions.
“We thank all the lived experience witnesses for their courage and bravery in sharing their stories with us,” Commissioner Kaldas said.
“Every submission is important and will help inform our inquiry.”
Submissions will continue to be accepted until 13 October 2023 and Commissioner Kaldas encouraged anyone with lived experience of suicide or suicidal behaviours to have their say.
This year, the Royal Commission held seven public hearings in six locations: Sydney, Canberra, Townsville, Hobart, Darwin and Wagga Wagga. Commission staff also visited 14 military bases to speak with serving members.
The inquiry conducted extensive community engagement – including five stakeholder reference groups and six roundtable meetings – and released two research papers.
The Commission’s Interim Report, handed down in August, contained 13 urgent recommendations – 11 of which have so far been accepted by the Federal Government.
Commissioner Kaldas said the inquiry would release key discussion papers, research and a special report in 2023, before its final report is handed down in June 2024.
The Commission’s next public hearing will be held in Perth from 15 May 2023. Watch Commissioner Kaldas’ Christmas video message.