Time for action on veterans’ royal commission
14 April 2021
Pressure to examine the high rate of suicide among veterans is intensifying, with Victorian Nationals MPs this week backing a push by veterans to establish a royal commission.
Member for Euroa Steph Ryan, whose electorate is home to a significant number of serving and retired defence personnel, has thrown her weight behind calls for action.
“The welfare of veterans and the severe mental health struggles many of them face after discharge is of the utmost importance,” Ms Ryan said.
“This debate might be occurring nationally, but it has local significance for our communities because we are the home of so many retired defence force personnel.
“I want the veterans who live in our community – many of whom have faced their own demons – to be given the opportunity to tell their stories so that we can get this right.
“A royal commission is the highest form of inquiry available and veterans and their families need to have confidence that any inquiry is independent and exhaustive.”
Ms Ryan said a report in 2019 by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found there were 419 suicides in serving, reserve and e-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel between 2001 and 2017.
“Many more veterans have lost their lives to suicide than have been killed on active duty since 2001, when Australia sent troops to Afghanistan.”
Ms Ryan said a royal commission would build on the significant progress the Federal Government had made by appointing a national commissioner for defence and veteran suicide with ongoing responsibility for the prevention of veterans’ suicide.
“The time for debate on this issue is well and truly over. We must listen to the voices of veterans who want to see more done,” Ms Ryan said.