Scott Morrison confirms veteran suicide royal commission

Scott Morrison has announced a royal commission into veteran suicides after a long-running campaign by former soldiers and pressure from all sides of parliament.

The commission will have a mandate to examine the systemic issues behind why Australian Defence Force veterans have a higher rate of suicide than the wider public.

"I think and I hope it will be a healing process ... that will assist in the comfort that those families have been seeking," the Prime Minister told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

The Prime Minister did not name the royal commissioner, but indicated the government would release draft terms of reference for consultation on Monday, with a tentative starting time of July.

"We want this to be comprehensive," Mr Morrison said.

"Every single day the service of our veterans is something that is pressed on my mind."

Finally the voices of veterans will be heard and finally families can stand up and share their stories.

Julie-Ann Finney

Mr Morrison remains committed to establishing a permanent commission of inquiry into veteran suicides, which was blocked in the Senate since last year.

But the independent office will operate alongside a standalone inquiry, which will take between 18 months and two years to deliver a final report.

The Prime Minister said governments made difficult decisions to deploy soldiers into war zones, but also needed to consider what happened to soldiers when they returned home.

"There is a far greater cost that is borne beyond those deployments, and that is the mental toll taken on the veterans after they return," he said.

"That cost is most significant when we see it in the death by suicide of our veterans."

Male veterans are 21 per cent more likely to die by suicide than men generally and the rate of suicide among ex-serving women is twice as high as among women in general, according to monitoring reports from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The Prime Minister has previously rejected calls for a royal commission to be established, preferring his permanent model. But he was dragged into action after members of his own backbench threatened to cross the floor in support of a royal commission.

Julie-Ann Finney has campaigned for a royal commission into veteran suicides. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Julie-Ann Finney has campaigned for a royal commission into veteran suicides. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Julie-Ann Finney has led a national campaign for a royal commission following the death of her son.

"Finally the voices of veterans will be heard and finally families can stand up and share their stories," Ms Finney said in a statement.

She urged the Prime Minister to ensure that the voices of veterans are front and centre in this royal commission.

"We cannot have the organisations at the centre of a broken system leading this investigation."

Labor's defence spokesman, Brendan O'Connor, said the decision was welcomed, but the government was late to hear to veterans and their families.

"We have had 41 tragic deaths in the Afghan war during the time of battle which is, of course, a great tragedy," Mr O'Connor told reporters in Melbourne following the announcement.

"It has been reported that over 500 veterans have suicided in that same time period, more than a tenfold increase than those who tragically died at war during the Afghan war.

"I think that underlines why it is so important that we see this matter dealt with."

Lifeline 13 11 14

Open Arms - Veterans and Families Counselling (for current and former serving ADF members and their families) 1800 011 046

Soldier On Australia 1300 620 380

  • with AAP

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This story 'A healing process': PM confirms veteran suicide royal commission first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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