Veterans welcome terms of suicide inquiry

·3-min read

Defence and veteran groups have welcomed the terms of reference of a royal commission into suicides in the military.

RSL national president Greg Melick said the upcoming inquiry had been a long time coming.

"It's going to be a completely and fairly exhaustive consideration of issues we've wanted dealt with for years," he told AAP.

Australia Defence Association executive director Neil James is also satisfied with the terms of reference.

"Many people thought they'd weasel out of this by rigging the terms of reference and they appear not to have weaseled out of it, probably because of the public outrage that would cause," he told AAP.

Mr James is pleased the royal commission will investigate the role played by the defence and veterans' affairs departments.

"There are too many laws, they are too complex and their administration is too bureaucratic," he said.

"Hopefully the royal commission will suggest clear changes to fix that problem."

Mr Melick wants the inquiry to look at more than just interactions between Australian Defence Force personnel and government departments.

He warned people engaged with the inquiry would need assistance and said the RSL stood ready to help.

"The royal commission's going to stir up a lot of memories for a lot of people."

An in-depth analysis of systemic risk factors leading to serving and returned personnel taking their own lives will form a key part of the probe.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison released the terms of reference for the inquiry, which will be led by former senior police officer and weapons inspector Nick Kaldas.

"The death of any Australian Defence Force member or veteran is a terrible tragedy that is deeply felt by all Australia but particularly those who served alongside them and their families," he told reporters in Sydney.

Former Queensland Supreme Court judge James Douglas and Peggy Brown, a psychiatrist and national mental health policy leader, will assist Mr Kaldas.

The commission will look at common themes relating to veteran suicide including the potential impact of pre-service, service, transition, separation and post-service issues.

The probe will be able to inquire into any previous death by suicide, including suspected suicide.

The royal commission is due to provide an interim report on August 11, 2022, and a final report on June 15 the following year.

The inquiry has been delayed by the prime minister's overseas travel and a Nationals leadership spill, which saw Darren Chester dumped as veterans' affairs minister and replaced by Andrew Gee.

Former soldiers and politicians of all stripes waged a long-running campaign for a royal commission.

The prime minister spent years pushing back against the calls, preferring to establish a permanent agency.

But he was dragged into action after coalition members threatened to cross the floor.

The inquiry will examine all aspects of service and the experience of those who transition to civilian life.

It will look at the availability and quality of health and support services as well as issues facing ADF members and veterans including family breakdowns, housing and employment.

Private sessions will be available.

Lifeline 13 11 14

Open Arms 1800 011 046

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting