Monday, 22 February 2021
Private Members' Business
Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention
But there is one significant difference, Member for Fisher, and that is that what we are proposing will go on; it will continue far beyond the scope of a short-term royal commission. It will continue long term and it will be able to not only make recommendations but see those recommendations implemented, which at the end of the day is what we should all want for veterans, because those recommendations are what's going to provide the support that they need.
It's why the Morrison government has invested over $42 million to implement this national commissioner—to provide a targeted and streamlined version of what a royal commission could be to these veterans but to do it in a way that not only provides the recommendations but sees those recommendations delivered, and then can monitor the implementation of those recommendations by looking at future suicides down the track—though we hope there are none. The national commissioner is a critical reform that addresses this unacceptably high rate of suicide among ADF members and veterans. It is important that this investment reflects this priority, and that's what we've done. Each year the Morrison government invests more than $230 million to assess mental health treatment, which comprises more than $11.5 billion in overall funding to support veterans and their families. Following the May budget last year, the coalition provided over $100 million to improve the care agencies for veterans struggling with mental health and to train more psychiatrists in mental health.
It's a big task and we can't do it alone, which is why we're engaging many stakeholders. That includes Mental Health Australia, Suicide Prevention Australia, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and the Defence Force Welfare Association, just to name a few.
I encourage those on the Labor side to get behind this national commissioner, help us implement something that will help Australian veterans today but also in an ongoing way into the future, to see those recommendations implemented so we stop seeing the rate of veterans suicides that we see currently.