RSL Says Lived Experiences Highlight Issues Facing Veterans and Service Personnel

Media Release RSL Australia

The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) says the Lived Experiences Report Shining a Light released yesterday by the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide highlights the issues and challenges facing the nation’s service personnel and veterans.

RSL Australia President Greg Melick said the detail in Shining a Light was concerning and made for difficult reading but needed to be acknowledged.

“We know many people shared their experiences to help inform the Commission’s work in the hope of driving change across government and the defence and veteran community,” Greg Melick said.

“Australia cannot shy away from the experiences outlined in this report.

“The RSL remains firm in its call for the establishment of a National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Wellbeing to ensure there is a sustained and permanent watch on the health and wellbeing of current and ex-serving ADF members and with independent oversight and monitoring of the implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations.”

The Royal Commission received some 6000 submissions and conducted more than 700 private sessions across Australia, as well as a series of public hearings. The Lived Experiences Report was developed out of those submissions, private sessions and public hearings.

“We are indebted to the courageous individuals who shared their lived experiences to inform the Commission’s work, which will help shape action to reduce the risk of suicide and suicidality across the defence and veteran community,” Greg Melick said.

“The RSL expresses its sorrow to people who have been affected and is providing support to veterans and their families,” he said.

“As well as assistance, advice and mateship available through RSL Branches and Sub-Branches, support is also available through Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling, or Lifeline crisis support.

“RSL representatives attended the Royal Commission hearings and participated in stakeholder briefings and other consultations. The League has been listening to the themes and interim recommendations and is already acting on the evidence presented. We will examine and reflect on the detail in Shining a Light and respond as necessary.”

The Commissioners are now preparing the Final Report, which will be presented to the Australian Government in September.

“Australia’s veterans need, and deserve, immediate government action to address the many factors which lead to veteran suicides. The implementation of all recommendations in the Royal Commission’s Final Report can kickstart this change,” Greg Melick said.

For those who have been impacted by the Lived Experience Report and through the course of providing or listening to evidence from the Royal Commission, please contact:

Open Arms – 1800 011 046

Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14

ADF Mental health All-Hours Support Line – 1800 628 036

Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636

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