Bipartisan support secured for veteran suicide prevention

13-May-2019

Both sides of politics will ensure volunteers in the veterans’ community are trained to identify suicidal behaviour among their mates to help arrest the tragic incidence of ex-servicemen and women taking their own lives.

At the first-ever RSL NSW Federal Election veterans’ debate in Sydney today, both the Minister for Veterans Affairs, Darren Chester MP, and the shadow Minister for Veterans Affairs, Amanda Rishworth MP, committed to implement volunteer training and look for additional ways to curb suicide among veterans.

“Every day, RSL volunteers around Australia are trying to help their mates suffering in their hour of greatest need, often without any formal training,” RSL NSW President James Brown said.

“Recent coronial hearings have heard the exact number of Australian veterans who commit suicide after returning to civilian life is not known, but every other day we are hearing reports of people taking their own lives.

“In 2017, the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing confirmed 325 veterans took their own lives between 2001 and 2015. The actual number is greater, because the study excluded a number of deaths suspected to be suicides after a coroner’s investigation.

“Last year I met with the Prime Minister to outline a range of issues our veteran community needed help with, including the scourge of suicide. The Federal Budget in April committed $4 million to train RSL members across Australia to be better equipped to care for their mates who might be contemplating suicide.

“Up to 20,000 RSL volunteers nationally will be trained in the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) program. ASIST is a two-day workshop which teaches participants to recognise when someone may be at risk of suicide and work with them to support their immediate safety.

“ASIST will get an army of first responders ready to spot the warning signs and get professional help for those of our mates struggling with mental health issues. It will have real impact.

RSL NSW is grateful we have secured bipartisan support to tackle what is an ongoing, needless tragedy.”

Contact:  David Wolf 0411 111 787 david@closer.com.au