Veterans call for royal commission

Peter Maloney. 192885 Pictures: RUSSELL BENNETT

Eight Emerald RSL veterans have called on the Federal Government to undertake a royal commission into veteran suicides.

In a letter to the editor former Emerald RSL President Peter Maloney said there has been a large ground swell within the veteran fraternity, who want to see the issue of veteran suicide addressed.

“As Vietnam veterans we ask our federal government to immediately call a royal commission into veteran suicides.”

“We are mystified why the government continues to ignore calls for a royal commission into veteran suicided when the minsiter recently acknlo9lwedged there are 30 veteran suicides a year (a figure that is now almost three years old) in the last three years it has more than doubled. “

The letter drew comparisons between 2007 Veterans affairs minister Alan Griffin and current affairs minister Darren Chester.

The letter stated that both have made statements regarding improvements being underway.

All that has changed in the last decade is the system has become more adversarial, DVA’s performance indicators have declined, previous DVA management have failed to follow legislation and worst of all nearly another 400 veterans have taken their life.”

“Two years ago Minister Tehan made an excellent announcement of immediate and free treatment for mental health issues … veterans now have to wait on average six weeks and in some cases six months for an appointment. “

Eight veterans from Emerald RSL signed the letter, which called upon Casey MP Tony Smith and Latrobe MP Jason Wood “to publicly declare where they stand on a royal Commission into veteran Suicide,”

Federal Member for La Trobe Jason Wood said that he will personally pass the letter to PM and Veterans Minister Darren Chester.

“I would like to acknowledge all signatories of letter and I highly respect them all,” Mr Wood said

Member for La Trobe Tony Smith said he would “continue to advocate for the very best of support for those who have served our nation.”

“We are committed to putting veterans and their families first and provide over $11 billion per year,” MP

“The government is working closely and constructively with the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), Defence and ex-service organisations to improve veterans’ mental health and the Prime Minister has said all options are on the table regarding a royal commission or other action.”

“The Government has already taken extensive action against veteran suicide including introducing life-long free mental health treatment for veterans for any mental health condition, without the need for that mental health condition to be related to military service.”

On 4 July 2019 the Federal Government tabled the final report of the Productivity Commission into the Compensation and Rehabilitation of Veterans —¬ A Better Way to Support Veterans.