The Morrison government will establish a permanent national commissioner for defence and veteran suicide prevention.
The national commissioner will have the enduring power, scope and resources to investigate suicides and related issues as they arise, rather than being restricted by a one-off review looking at past practices.
The national commissioner for defence and veteran suicide prevention will be empowered to perform two roles:
- The commissioner will be an independent and permanent public accountability body, with the same powers of a royal commission to compel the production of evidence and summon witnesses, and make findings and recommendations to government.
- The commissioner will also provide an ongoing investigative function of individual cases of suicide, working with each state and territory coronial office, making recommendations to government.
The government will invest an initial $40m to support the commissioner’s work and this will be expanded to ensure they have whatever resources they need.
The government will also establish an immediate, independent review of historical veteran suicide cases, conducted by the commissioner, focusing on the impact of military service and veterans’ post-service experience.
An interim report will be delivered within 12 months. Families will be engaged in this process if they wish, with an opportunity to participate and tell their stories openly and safely.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, along with coronial and legal experts, will provide technical expertise in support of this work.