Extension of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide announced – until 17 June 2024

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has been extended by one year. This week the Attorney-General announced the Royal Commissioners have been given an additional 12 months in which to prepare their final report, which will now be due on 17 June 2024. The interim report remains due on 11 August 2022.

Speaking at the start of the second week of the Canberra hearing, Chair of the Royal Commission, Nick Kaldas APM made the following remarks about the extension. Quotation marks – indication the beginning of a quote In approving this extension, the Government acknowledged a significant volume of work the Royal Commission has undertaken to date with more than 1300 submissions received so far, and 344 requests for private sessions, as well as the completion of three hearing blocks, with this being the fourth, from which significant evidence has been gathered.

The engagement with the Defence Force and veteran communities has been extensive and essential, and there is much more to do. The magnitude of the task has become clearer. Given the need to undertake a more detailed inquiry, harnessing the contact with the community and continuing our own research and analysis, we sought the extension to allow the following:

To allow adequate time for continuing engagement with the Defence and veteran community and other relevant stakeholders. To allow us to pursue our ambitious data gathering program to analyse the results and test them against other evidence. This will inform our recommendations, including the need to have in place information systems designed to help reduce the number of deaths by suicide in our military and veteran population. To conduct further roundtables with experts on suicidality in the Defence and veteran community and more generally. These roundtable discussions have been very helpful to date in directing our thinking about the contents of our hearings and the importance of various areas for research. With the extension of time we will be able to conduct more roundtable discussions, consolidating the robustness of our evidence base, and we will also have time to socialise and test possible solutions prior to publications of the final report. To allow us to properly examine how our allies in the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand in particular deal with this issue and learn from their experience as per our terms of reference. And, finally, to safeguard our own workforce and that of the Commonwealth staff who are responding to our demands and participating in our inquiries. The work has been intense. The focus of our interim report will be urgent recommendations for early actions that may be taken now. If required, the Royal Commission may consider making other urgent recommendations prior to the release of the final report if it is deemed necessary. We are also considering the possible requirement for an agency or body that may follow the Royal Commission akin to the Government’s previous proposal for a permanent Defence and Veteran Suicide National Commissioner. We plan to consult stakeholders on this issue and receive submissions before making a recommendation to Government.”

The next hearings will be held in Townsville from Monday 20 June and Hobart from 1 August.

 

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