The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide – Appointments and Terms of Reference

8 Jul 2021

Nick Kaldas to lead Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide

Scott Morrison has appointed former NSW police deputy commissioner Nick Kaldas to lead the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

Speaking at Kirribilli House on Thursday, the Prime Minister revealed the terms of reference for the inquiry which followed months of consultations.

Mr Morrison said the commission would investigative “systemic issues” and “common themes” about veteran and defence suicides, including transiting in and out of the service. The commission will also look at attempted suicides.

He said all Australians recognised the contribution and sacrifice of the nation’s defence personnel.

“The death of any defence force member or veteran is a terrible tragedy that is deeply felt by all Australians, but particularly those that served alongside them and their families,” he said.

Mr Morrison federal government and the nation’s defence leaders were committed to addressing the “ongoing impact of service.

He also praised the “extensive international experience” of Mr Kaldas, who has worked for United Nations agencies.

Mr Kaldas will be joined by James Douglas QC – former Judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland – and Peggy Brown, a consultant psychiatrist to lead the commission.

Mr Morrison said the “illuminating process” would be informed by individual experience of defence members, veterans and their families and friends. Private sessions at the commission will be available to participants.

An interim report is due to be published on August 11 2022 and a final report on June 15 2023.

Mr Morrison revealed in April a royal commission would be held into the high rates of suicide among veterans and military personnel. He said on Thursday that more than 3000 submissions were collected during the commission’s consultation process.

Mr Morrison had previously resisted a royal commission in favour of a permanent commissioner for veteran suicides.

He said the government’s legislation for a permanent commissioner for veterans’ suicide – currently before parliament – will be amended so it does not duplicate the inquiry’s work. The national commissioner will be the permanent body tasked with implementing the inquiry’s recommendations.

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