Labor welcomes the Government’s new-found focus on veterans’ mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention.
It was pleasing to see the Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester convene a Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit at Parliament House in Canberra yesterday to discuss these important issues.
The summit brought together key stakeholders and experts to look at ways to improve Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) services and support for ex-service personnel.
But if we’re serious about tackling the unacceptably high rate of veteran suicides in this country more is needed than just talk fests and photo opportunities.
We need to see real action.
While Labor acknowledges a range of existing DVA programs to improve veteran mental health, little seems to have come out of this latest meeting.
When it comes to the wellbeing of our ex-service men and women, business as usual is not an option.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently admitted the system is not working and his government’s agencies are failing our most vulnerable veterans.
Labor has been talking about these issues for some time and we took a number of policies designed to improve DVA and veterans’ support services to the last election.
There have been a number of significant inquiries, reviews and reports into veteran mental health and suicide over recent years.
The Government needs to get on with the job of implementing the recommendations of these reports.
The final report of the Productivity Commission review into compensation and rehabilitation for veterans is due to be released shortly and could provide a real blueprint for reform of veterans’ services and support.