24 May 2021
The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) has made a detailed submission on the themes for a consultation to inform the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
In developing the submission, the RSL has sought input from senior psychiatrists, recognised for leadership roles in veterans’ mental health management and has reiterated its previous commitments to provide its full support to the Commission.
RSL National President Greg Melick welcomed the opportunity to comment and said RSL members from across Australia had contributed to the overall RSL response via their Branches and Sub-Branches. Members were also encouraged to make individual submissions if they preferred. The RSL membership overall provided positive feedback on the proposed themes of the Terms of Reference.
Greg Melick said RSL members had highlighted long-standing concerns regarding the lack of implementation of recommendations from previous inquiries into Defence and Veteran Suicide, and past Royal Commissions conducted on a range of matters.
“We have also called for the Royal Commission to be able to make interim recommendations and have these implemented at the earliest time, recognising this may require legislative change,” he said.
“RSL members believe the Commission’s scope should not be limited to looking suicides within a specific date range, rather it should also consider non-fatal suicide behaviour and associated factors. Clarity is also needed between the roles of National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention and the function of the Commission, which will undoubtedly overlap and could cause confusion and delays in the processing of veterans’ claims.
“It is vital the outcomes of all relevant previous inquiries and Productivity Commission reports are considered at the outset, and none are excluded or ignored.”
The RSL submission listed an extensive range of themes for inclusion in the Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference.
These include: examining transition processes from the armed services, medical discharges, post service employment, all aspects of the veteran lifecycle, evidence-based research on ADF and veteran suicide, a review of suicide incidence in Australian and comparable defence forces, the provision of mental health care, the role of non-government, ex-service organisations and other support services, the potential for respite postings, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs claims process and the role and effects of social media in promulgating disinformation.