PM Introduces New Measures To Tackle Veteran Suicide
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will appoint a permanent independent commissioner to investigate veteran suicide and make recommendations on mental health and wellbeing.
The new National Commissioner for Defence and Suicide Prevention will reportedly have the powers of a royal commission to probe the deaths of more than 400 serving and ex-service men and women have taken their own lives since 2001.
An interim report will be handed over in 12 months with a final report is due in 18 months.
"This is about being forever vigilant for the care and wellbeing of our veterans," Morrison told the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday.
"Those veterans and all serving men and women protect our community and our freedoms. It is our duty to do the same for them."
The prime minister's decision comes after federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese backed calls for a commission.
Albanese endorsed the public campaign after meeting with Julie-Ann Finney, whose son David died by suicide earlier this year.
The suicide rate for ex-servicemen is 18 per cent higher than the broader population and ex-servicewomen are twice as likely to take their own lives than other Australian women.
The government will spend $40 million to set up the office of the commissioner.
Apart from investigating past and new deaths, the commissioner will also make recommendations to improve mental health and wellbeing.
The watchdog will deliver an annual report to parliament to assess the reduction of suicide risk factors.
"It's all about being permanently vigilant about their welfare," Morrison said.
Featured image via AAP.