Veteran suicide: Call for veterans and grieving families to be heard

Vets We Forget

There is less than one week left for the veteran community and families to submit their views on what the royal commissioner should
consider, after the federal government announced last month it would look at both defence and veteran suicides.

The Terms of Reference Advisory Group (ToRAG), formed by Julie-Ann Finney who lost her navy veteran son Dave, focuses largely on the
institutional impacts and systemic issues contributing to veteran suicide and suicide behaviour. This includes unaddressed Defence Force
and Department of Veterans Affairs issues of abuse, alleged criminality and corruptive behaviours, maladministration, and poor
management practices which arguably lies at the heart of veteran suicide.
We believe the Terms of Reference must be directed to investigate those functions within both the Defence Force and the Department of
Veterans Affairs, as well as other organisations including:
  • The lived and living experience of suicide and suicide behaviours from veterans (both serving and ex-serving), families of those
    bereaved by suicide and as well as families and carers impacted;
  • Governance, policy, service provisions, and systems of care;
  • Organisational ethics, codes, and ethos;
  • Institutional supports including health and ex-service organisations;
  • Command and organisational competence (and impacts); and
  • Political direction and/or neglect
As a community which feels voiceless and powerless, we urge the government to listen to the quiet veterans – the silent and vulnerable
veterans – including still serving members which our submission serves to support.
“We urge the government to listen to those marginalised by systemic trauma and demonstrate compassion, empathy, and honesty for those
that have worn the uniform on behalf of our nation,
” a spokesperson for the ToRAG said.
“We have also raised pertinent concerns with the leaders of our nation which, we argue, undermines democratic process and trust within
the veteran and broader community.
“We are firm in stance that a pause on any type of National Commission is requisite until the recommendations of the Royal Commission,
either interim or final, may deem it necessary. Putting the “cart before the horse”
, or alongside the horse, is untested and makes little
sense.”
A Royal Commission which does not investigate the institutions and institutional contexts as well as holding alleged criminal and corruptive
behaviours to account equates to failing both veterans and the people of Australia who rely on the strength of the Australian Defence Force’s capabilities to keep
our nation safe from harm.
Terms of Reference Advisory Group members
Nikki Jamieson – (PhD)(c), Suicidologist and mother of deceased veteran
Deborah Morris – PhD (c) & Veteran
Karen Bird – PhD (c) & Mother of Deceased Veteran
Greg Isolani – Veterans’ Lawyer
Glenn Kolomeitz – Veterans’ Lawyer PhD (c) & Veteran
Tyson Potter – Veteran Policy Advocate & Veteran
Martin John Rollins – Veteran Policy Advocate & Veteran
Stuart McCarthy – Retired Army Officer & Veteran
/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length.