Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide – Letter from the National President

29 Mar 2021

Dear DFWA members and supporters,

You will be aware of the continuing call for a Royal Commission into veteran suicide. This goes back several years, originating from a call for the establishment of a Royal Commission into DVA in 2015/16. Since that time there has been many studies and reviews into DVA, its workings and its place in addressing the issues confronting the veteran community. 

The call to establish a Royal Commission into veteran suicide has proved to be problematic for many veteran organisations and individuals who work and volunteer in the veteran space. This has certainly been the experience within DFWA, across the branches, and amongst the membership. We all have a view on veteran suicide, whether it is from personal experience—through the death of a friend, a mate, or a family member—or from coverage of the issue in the media, on social media platforms, or in conversation over a drink.

The Federal Government tried to address the call for a Royal Commission by the appointment of an interim Commissioner into veteran suicide. This was to be a precursor to a permanent Commissioner for Veteran Suicide who was to have the standing powers of a Royal Commission. The legislation required to establish the permanent Commissioner was not supported by the Senate and did not get the support of the Opposition or crossbench in the House of Representatives.

The conversation has reached the point where both houses of the Federal Parliament have voted in support of a Royal Commission and have called on the Prime Minister to initiate one. 

Throughout this period, DFWA has sought to work with the interim Commissioner for Veteran Suicide. Her work should prove to be a positive contribution to a future Royal Commission.

DFWA supports the establishment of a Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide and looks forward to opportunities to contribute to that process.

We are seeking reassurance from the government that no resources will be diverted from veteran support during a Royal Commission; and that recommendations from the 2019 Productivity Commission Report – A Better Way to Support Veterans, continue to be implemented and appropriately resourced.

The Alliance of Defence Service Organisations, of which DFWA is an active member, has today released a media release calling on the Prime Minister to initiate a Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide.

Take care,

Kel Ryan

President, DFWA