Skip to content

Systemic and cultural review to provide strong steps towards healing for families and defence community

Systemic and cultural review to provide strong steps towards healing for families and defence community

The National Mental Health Commission welcomes the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide and the appointment of its Chair and panel members.

Former NSW Deputy Police Commissioner, Nick Kaldas APM has been appointed to Chair the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, along with panel members, former National Mental Health Commission CEO and Psychiatrist, Dr Peggy Brown AO and former Queensland Supreme Court Justice James Douglas.

The Royal Commission will enquire into systemic issues and common themes related to defence and veteran deaths by suicide, including the possible contribution of pre-service, transition, separation and post service issues.

“The National Mental Health Commission welcomes these appointments; Dr Brown especially has been an ardent advocate for mental health reform within the defence forces and beyond. We are pleased to see the focus on the identification of systemic issues within the Terms of Reference, with a specific emphasis on the culture within the ADF, the Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans Affairs and its impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of defence members and veterans,” said National Mental Health Commission Chair, Mrs Lucy Brogden AM.

We are also pleased to see the full employment lifecycle included in the Terms of Reference.

According to National Mental Health Commission CEO, Christine Morgan, the National Mental Health Commission has actively called for improvements in the support provided for defence personnel and evaluation of the efficacy of those services, especially with regard to transitioning out of service.

“We know that particular cohorts of veterans transitioning from the Australian Defence Force have higher rates of suicide that the general population, with those who medically separate from the ADF being particularly vulnerable. Every death is a tragedy. If we are going to significantly reduce suicide in Australia, this is a priority area that needs significant reform.

The National Suicide Prevention Advice released in April called for a whole of life, person centred approach to services provided for defence personnel. It is pleasing to see this reflected in the Terms of Reference which will specifically examine systemic risk-factors including social and family context, housing circumstances, employment issues, economic participation and experiences of stigma and discrimination.” Ms Morgan said.

“We want to acknowledge all those who have lost a loved one to suicide and any person who is experiencing suicidal ideation. We know this news will be difficult for many, our thoughts are with you and we urge anyone who needs support to please reach out to services who can help.” Ms Morgan continued.

24 hour Support Services:
Open Arms: 1800 011 046
ADF Mental Health: 1800 628 036
Lifeline: 13 11 14

National FREE 24/7 Crisis Services

Lifeline | 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service | 1300 659 467 
Kids Helpline | 1800 55 1800 
MensLine Australia | 1300 78 99 78
Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service | 1800 512 348

Aboriginal flag Torres Strait Islander flag

Acknowledgement of Country

The Commission acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands throughout Australia.
We pay our respects to their clans, and to the elders, past present and emerging, and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, sea and community.


The Commission is committed to embracing diversity and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the provision of health services. The Commission welcomes all people irrespective of ethnicity, lifestyle choice, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lived Experience

We acknowledge the individual and collective contributions of those with a lived and living experience of mental ill-health and suicide, and those who love, have loved and care for them. Each person’s journey is unique and a valued contribution to Australia’s commitment to mental health suicide prevention systems reform.