President’s Statement – Veteran Suicide
RSL NSW Urges Focus on Implementing Existing Recommendations as Next Steps to Reducing Veteran Suicide
Statement from Ray James, Acting President, RSL NSW
We are thankful and ever protective of those family members who have so bravely shared their family’s tragedies following the loss of their sons to suicide. We will never forget their lives and their service. These families have been critical in ensuring this issue is front of mind for the broader community as well as Defence, DVA and ex-service organisations including RSL NSW, and we must acknowledge this.
Veteran suicide is a complex and highly sensitive issue with no one solution. After canvassing our District Council representatives, we believe that the next steps in addressing veteran suicide should be based on implementing existing recommendations made in previous investigations. This includes the recent productivity commission report into veterans’ services.
We believe that the funding to expand preventative measures such as veteran employment programs, Veteran Sport Australia, and the development of other wellbeing programs would deliver a tangible difference in the short term, and should take priority over establishing a royal commission that will be expensive and take time to establish and report.
This is in addition to the scaling up of critical mental health and other support services such as the newly created ‘wellness centres,’ and those frontline ESO activities conducted by RSL DefenceCare that address mental health, housing, direct financial assistance and more.
By reaching out to veterans and assisting them to rapidly access DVA and other support services, and through close camaraderie offered through sub-Branches, we are committed to making a positive difference and growing our reach and effectiveness. We have just voted on the implementation of a new constitution that delivered a broad commitment to modernise to better channel the use of our resources.
We encourage everyone involved in the veteran care ecosystem to remain open-minded to changing and evolving, and working together more than ever before to find practical solutions to the scourge of veteran suicide.
If the Federal Government does decide to establish a royal commission, RSL NSW will support it in any way it can, while continuing its vital work to support veterans and their families. So long as one life is lost to suicide, there is a lot of work still to be done.”