Royal commission into defence and veteran suicide to ‘complement’ work of national commissioner

By Shannon Jenkins

Monday April 19, 2021

Three royal commissioners will lead an inquiry into defence and veteran suicide.
Three royal commissioners will lead an inquiry into defence and veteran suicide. (Image: Adobe/ jimbocymru)

The government has announced it will establish a royal commission into defence and veteran suicide, with three commissioners to lead the inquiry.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday said the royal commission would complement the creation of the Office of the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.

“The royal commission will look at past deaths by suicide (including suspected suicides and lived experience of suicide risks) from a systemic point of view, while the national commissioner will have a forward-looking role, including overseeing the implementation of the royal commission’s recommendations,” he said in a joint statement with ministers Darren Chester and Michaelia Cash.

The government introduced legislation to establish the national commissioner last year, and appointed Dr Bernadette Boss as the interim national commissioner.

Morrison on Monday said the bill would be amended to ensure the commissioner’s work complements the work of the royal commission, and continues to examine deaths by suicide that occur after the royal commission has handed down its final report.

READ MORE: Defence and veteran suicide prevention body to take ‘trauma-informed’, family oriented approach under new legislation

Consultation is underway to appoint three royal commissioners to lead the inquiry.

Veterans’ affairs minister Darren Chester will lead a public consultation process on the draft terms of reference, while Morrison will invite first ministers to make contributions to the draft terms of reference. The government intends for the inquiry to be a joint commonwealth-state royal commission.

Chester said the government was committed to helping the men and women who have served with “any mental or physical issues that are a result of that service”.

“This will provide an opportunity for us all to reset, further increase our understanding of this issue, and unite the Parliament, the ex-service community, and the families who have been affected by suicide,” he said.

The Attorney-General’s Department will provide administrative support to the inquiry.

The government noted that the royal commission won’t need to examine matters that have been dealt with by past inquiries, investigations, or criminal or civil proceedings.

READ MORE: Damning report demands wellbeing-centred support for veterans

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