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6 Nov 2019

Save Our Heroes Summit on Veteran Suicide – RSL NSW Response

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RSL NSW has today participated in the ‘Save Our Heroes Summit’ held at NSW Parliament House. Following the conclusion of the Summit, RSL NSW Acting President Ray James has issued the following statement:

On behalf of RSL NSW, I offer our gratitude and thanks to the six mothers who so bravely shared their experiences in this public forum today. We honour and remember your sons and will never forget their lives and their service.

Suicide continues to be a tragedy endured by too many families, and is hurting everyone involved in the veteran community on a deeply personal level. RSL NSW remains committed to caring for veterans and their families, and just last week adopted a new constitution that delivered a broad commitment to modernise to more effectively and efficiently utilise our resources.

We need to pull together and do what the RSL does best – provide a safe haven, friendly face and contact point in communities large and small across the state and across the country. Camaraderie and connection is one way to reach out to veterans who are suffering and help connect people with professional services.

As a member organisation we will be consulting with our members in relation to our position on a Royal Commission, but remain steadfast in implementing practical actions to address this ongoing tragedy.   We must remain open-minded in exploring new ways to support veterans and their families, working with government, ex-service organisations and the broader community to increase access to mental health services and other practical programs that will provide connection and community. We have seen the benefits of our work in RSL DefenceCare, Veteran Sport Australia and other programs, and will look to grow these further.

RSL NSW participated in today’s Summit because of our deep commitment to addressing the scourge of veteran suicide. It must be met with both practical solutions and a deep commitment to leave no stone unturned in also reviewing broader institutional processes. One life lost is one too many, and we all have much work still to do.

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