GOVERNMENT RESPONDS TO GEFFREY GREGG REVIEW
30 July 2008

The Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans' Affairs today released the three reports that make up the Gregg Review into the circumstances surrounding the service and suicide of Signaller Geffrey Gregg.

SIG Gregg joined the Australian Army in March 2000 and served in Afghanistan in 2002 as part of 3 Squadron Special Air Service Regiment. He was medically discharged from the Army in May 2004. He died on 23 September 2006.

The Minister for Veterans' Affairs, the Hon. Alan Griffin MP and the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP said the Review confirmed the Government's concerns regarding mental health support services for serving and former defence personnel.

"While we cannot solve today all the issues raised by the review, we have begun the work to improve the care offered within the ADF, in transition, and after service."

"Prior to the election we were aware of significant problems with servicemen and women and veterans accessing relevant ADF and DVA mental health support services. Labor's Plan for Defence and Veterans detailed a number of initiatives that addressed these issues," Mr Griffin said.

Mr Snowdon said improvements were underway in the handling of mental health issues and the quality of mental health support for serving and former members of the Defence Forces.

"In addition, a review of mental health services in the ADF was announced in May and will examine the spectrum of mental health policies across Defence and transitioning into the care of DVA. A report to Government is expected before the end of this year".

Mr Griffin said the findings from the reports by Ron McLeod AM, Christopher Doogan AM and the Inspector General of the ADF, Geoff Earley AM, also found a number of problems with transition out of the services.

"The Gregg Review showed that the legislation is complex, and there is heavy reliance on volunteer pension officers and advocates to provide advice to veterans," said Mr Griffin.

"Amongst a wide range of new transition and support initiatives, the Interdepartmental Working Group, chaired by the Secretary of DVA, has been established to help solve the problems encountered by discharging members when dealing with multiple agencies."

Work has started to simplify claims forms, streamline applications, minimise proof of identity requirements for new claimants, and enable the sharing of medical records, including assessments, between Departments.

"Any suicide is a tragedy. However this review provides us with specific strategies to better support discharging members and those suffering from the effects of their service, "said Mr Griffin.

"Much has been achieved since the election but there is more to be done. This Government is committed to the challenge," Mr Snowdon said.

Signaller Gregg's family and partner have received copies of the Gregg Review. They have also met with Defence and DVA and received personal briefings on the reports, the findings, recommendations and actions.

The reports and responses can be downloaded from www.dva.gov.au and www.defence.gov.au/publications.cfm