|12 Feb 2023|
|Written by Ian Lindgren|
MEDIA RELEASE: COMPLACENCY AT VETERAN SUICIDE NUMBERS AND SILENCE FROM THE MINISTER FOR VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Australian veterans and veteran families ask for the basic human right to a happy life during and after service. To live without the trauma that took another veteran life by suicide as reported by ABC News on Friday.
Basic human rights are being denied to veterans and their families.
Urgent action is needed to stem veteran suicide and long running trauma effecting veterans and their families.
Hon Matt Keogh MP. On 26 September 2022 Hon Matt Keogh MP stated, “It is devastating that Australia has lost more serving and former serving personnel to suicide over the last 20 years than through operations over the same period in Afghanistan and Iraq. The “whole system for serving and ex-serving members need to be re-imagined and re-engineered. On behalf of the Australian Government, I say, sorry.”
What's the plan of action? Expressing apologies on behalf of successive governments is justifiable if swift action is taken. But what constitutes as swift when it comes to issues such as suicide and trauma? Is it a matter of weeks, months, or years?
Why does this Continue? Today, one of our team members is helping Andrew M, who first submitted his claim to DVA on 19 September 2020. 875 days later and his claim is still not finalised. Andrew served in the RAAF for over 30 years during both peacetime and wartime. He has been diagnosed with PTSD and substance abuse, and on 21 September 2021 DVA promised to process the claim promptly. However, now, DVA is requesting the psychiatrist to confirm a diagnosis that was already made prior to September 2021. Has the veteran’s condition suddenly improved; we think not. This is causing immense distress for the veteran, his family, and those assisting him.
Where is our Minister? Matt Keogh MP should not hold the newly appointed Secretary for Veterans' Affairs responsible for this recent suicide. The Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans' Association, is one of the 14 peak veteran organisations that provide advice to the Commonwealth on behalf of veterans and their families. We cannot secure a meeting with the Minister to discuss this issue and others. Our only point of contact is with the Minister's Senior Advisor, and he is only available to visit our office one afternoon at 5:30pm on the way home from work...in six weeks time. This level of accessibility is unacceptable. In 2022, the only time we had an opportunity to meet with the Minister, he abruptly left the room and ignored a veteran's wife who was in tears, without even checking if she was okay. Is veteran suicide so common that our Minister is complacent about it?
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs agreed to:
Why is it difficult to eliminate foolishness such as the requirement of re-confirming a psychiatric condition 18 months after the initial diagnosis? There are so many good people in DVA that are hamstrung by processes that do little to support the veteran.
New Harmonised Veteran Legislation. As we await information regarding Shaun Spain's passing through an appropriate and respectful channel, we request that Hon Matt Keogh MP consider the following questions:
An Immediate Pressure Relief Solution. Let every veteran on the 40,000 claims waiting list have medical treatment now, and treat it similar to workers compensation legislation insofar as the treatment should go ahead if the GP or specialist can attribute it to a veteran’s time in service. Don’t wait for DVA approval; let’s get it done and take a measurable step to reduce the trauma to veterans and their families. Let's take something positive away from a tragedy.
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