Senate debates

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Questions without Notice

Defence Personnel, Veterans

2:36 pm

Photo of Marise PayneMarise Payne (NSW, Liberal Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

I particularly thank Senator McMahon for this very important question, because we are all very conscious that the devastating developments in Afghanistan are distressing for many of our serving defence personnel and for veterans, including, in particular, the very large defence community in the Northern Territory. We thank and acknowledge the 39,000 Australian men and women who served in Afghanistan and the many more Australians who've served both in campaigns and in peacekeeping efforts around the world, including the Battle of Long Tan, the 55th anniversary of which we marked last week. To all those who have worn an Australian military uniform, and to all of their families: we are grateful for your sacrifices and for the safety and security that you have afforded your fellow Australians.

In turn, we have a duty as a nation to be there for them by ensuring their physical and mental health needs are met. The government is committed to ensuring Australian Defence Force personnel have access to the right support at the right time. Defence has in place mental health services that operate around the clock. These include the confidential telephone support service for both ADF members and their families, the Defence Employee Assistance Program, which provides free professional counselling and support through defence members' chains of command through the chaplaincy service. Defence provides comprehensive mental health support services to deployed forces before, during and after deployments.

To all of those who served in Afghanistan: the government is unequivocal in saying that you did the job your nation asked of you. You did it overwhelmingly with great distinction, and nothing will change that.


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