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I'm making a TV ad

I’ve brought in a professional production crew to make an ad demanding the Prime Minister call a proper Royal Commission into veterans suicide.

The kicker? We’re going to run it in the middle of a Cronulla Sharks NRL game, where we know the PM will be watching.
Can you help chip in to cover the production costs?

It’s time for a Royal Commission into veteran suicide.

The Government’s announced a Commissioner into veterans suicide. The Prime Minister called it “better than a Royal Commission” because it’s never-ending. But you know what, that’s exactly the problem.

It’s a never-ending inquiry with an unnamed Commissioner looking into an unspecified problem. It’s a review of the last 17 reviews. And it’s another advocate to do the work that the current advocate is doing.

Meanwhile, the suicide rate for young veterans is double the average. One in five transitioning ADF members considers it. One in ten plans it. One a week goes through with it.

Where in the bloody world would that be acceptable?

We can’t accept a never-ending inquiry that never draws a line in the sand and says enough is enough. The families of veterans who’ve taken their own lives deserve better than a fob off.

You don’t end the problem if you don’t end the review.

Now’s the time to stand up and say nothing less will do. Demand a Royal Commission into veterans suicide – a full one. Demand it has an end date. Demand a moment when the Government shifts from being told what to do to just bloody getting on with doing it. Anything less is a sell-out. And I won’t cop it.

But here’s the good news. The Government’s announced something because the pressure is working. We’re close to getting a full Royal Commission and we can’t take our foot of the gas by accepting second-best. Stand with me now and send a message that near enough isn’t close to good enough.

Here's what I need you to do

  • Sign this petition calling for a Royal Commission into veterans suicide.
  • Share the petition around.
  • Help me make an ad calling on the government to call a Royal Commission into veterans suicide. We want to saturate the ad buy for the weekend of a Sharks game, making it impossible for the PM to ignore. That kind of coverage won't be cheap.
    But if everyone chips in $10, we'll have enough.

We need to stop wasting time!

I’ve heard the arguments that we have already had endless reviews into finding out how to improve things. Those reviews sit on shelves. The best they achieve is a polite response from government, a promise to do better, and bit of change around the edges. What’s needed is a stiff broom. What’s needed is a total rewrite of how we take care of veterans.

And to do that sort of rewrite, we need the sort of resources of a Royal Commission.

I’m not going to stand around and let the ADF or the DVA do another review into itself. The 2019 Productivity Commission report on veterans found that veterans do not trust the ADF to act with integrity and transparency towards its own people. I’m ex-Army. I’ve seen it. And I’ll tell you, I get it.

What’s been announced shows the Government is under pressure. They want to do something but they’ve decided against doing what is needed. If the Prime Minister is fair dinkum in saying he wants something better than a Royal Commission, I say good on him. But let’s start with the Royal Commission rather than skipping right over it.

More Australian veterans have lost their life by suicide than have been killed in active duty since Vietnam. I’ve had it with the delaying tactics. It’s time for a Royal Commission into veteran suicide.

Goal: 10,000 Signatures

2,701 Signatures

Will you sign?

This petition calls for a Royal Commission into veterans suicide.

To the Honourable President and members of the Senate in Parliament assembled:

The signatories of this petition ask that the Parliament support a Royal Commission into veterans suicide.

The Prime Minister’s announcement of a permanent Commissioner is a welcome recognition that more needs to be done. But we respectfully ask that the Prime Minister’s proposal be amended to become a formal, fully-empowered Royal Commission.

Read More

A national tragedy and a national disgrace

DVA is broken

DVA is broken

The department that’s supposed to help veterans is making them worse.

An independent study from 2019 found that the process of going to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for help could actually be harming the health and wellbeing of our returned servicemen and women. The Department is not functioning. It’s delaying and dithering while veterans are dying. There have been countless reports into what needs to happen to fix the department, but government after government keeps tinkering with things at the edges without engaging with the harsh truth – the department is not fit for purpose. It needs a clear-out.

Surplus before soldiers

Surplus before soldiers

The government treats veterans like a budget item instead of a national priority.

If you want to prove to me you think veterans are heroes, you don’t just say so on Anzac Day. You back up your words with actions. You pay every cent it takes to nurse a wounded warrior back to health. A veteran’s contribution to this country doesn’t end when they take off the uniform. But we’re failing to give our veterans the support they need to transition back into civilian life and use the skills and experience they’ve developed in service of our country. They’re being sucked into a black hole of bureaucracy and buck-passing. They reach out for help, we slap a pin on them and send them on their way. We know what it takes to help our veterans. It’s going to cost money. We just have to pay it. I’m sick of politicians who tell a veteran their health is too expensive. Words are cheap. Our political leaders are cheaper.

Reviews don't replace results

Reviews don't replace results

We treat veteran suicide like it’s a problem happening to someone else.

Every suicide is a tragedy to those who are affected by it. Imagine losing a child to suicide. It’s heartbreaking. And you know what? To leave a veteran feeling like they don’t have anywhere to turn for help, and there’s no hope left in life – those families didn’t do that. We did that. We all let that happen to that veteran, and that family. Every time we elect a government and fail to demand things change, we endorse the status quo. That doesn’t sit easy on my conscience. I’m not going to keep letting this happen. This ends now.

Veterans are going bankrupt waiting for help because their department is forgetting about them.

My inquiry in the last Parliament found that veterans are seeking help from the Department of Veterans Affairs and having their claims delayed or denied inappropriately because DVA staff are overworked and undertrained.

We recommended more staff. The Government agreed.

So what did they do? They cut DVA staff by 15 per cent since that inquiry began.

The Productivity Commission has found that “not all DVA staff are appropriately trained to deal with potentially vulnerable clients”. Those are the clients ending up as suicide statistics.

Jesse Bird wrote to DVA condemning the way he was treated over the phone. A short time later, he was a statistic too.

Another 2019 review found that the way DVA handles the claims of veterans is “potentially harmful to client mental health”.

DVA’s supposed to help these people, and yet the second most common reason for there being delays in veterans getting the help they need is because DVA simply loses their paperwork or forgets to make a decision.

The status quo is not acceptable...

  • The department that’s supposed to help veterans is making them worse.
  • The government treats veterans like a budget item instead of a national priority.
  • We treat veteran suicide like it’s a problem happening to someone else.

Are you ready to join the fight to fix these problems?

I'll stand beside you

More veterans have lost their life by suicide than have been killed in active duty since Vietnam. It’s time for a Royal Commission into veteran suicide.