Independent studies by Professor David Dunt

Independent study into suicide in the ex-service community

As part of its election commitment, the Australian Government committed to conduct a study to examine the broad issue of suicide in the ex-service community, including a number of specific cases of suicide over the past three years, to help identify the following:

  • ex-service members who are at increased risk of self harm
  • common contributing factors among ex-service members who have committed or attempted suicide
  • the extent of suicide in the ex-service community
  • lifestyle or other factors that may be contributing to suicide in the ex-service community
  • recommended administrative reforms or initiatives to help combat suicide in the ex-service community.

The Government appointed Professor David Dunt to undertake the study. Professor Dunt is a public health specialist and epidemiologist with major interests in health program evaluation and health services research.  He was also appointed to conduct the Review of Mental Health Care in the Australian Defence Force and Transition through Discharge (Defence website).

Prof. Dunt presented his study to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs in February 2009. The Minister announced the Government’s response in May 2009.

See: More information about Professor Dunt (PDF 30kb on Defence website)

Terms of reference

The terms of reference for the study were developed in consultation with the National Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum.

See: Suicide study terms of reference (PDF 47kb)

The Study results and Government response

Review of Mental Health Care in the Australian Defence Force and Transition Through Discharge

In addition to undertaking the Independent Study into Suicide in the Ex-service Community, Prof. Dunt was also appointed by the then Minister for Veterans Affairs’, the Hon Alan Griffin MP, and the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, to undertake the Review of Mental Health Care in the ADF and Transition through Discharge.

The review was released on Friday, 1 May, 2009, along with the Government’s response.

Prof. Dunt’s comprehensive report compared mental health care support in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with world’s best practice and assessed the extent to which the mental health needs of serving and transitioning ADF members were being met.

The review highlighted successes and gaps in the delivery of mental health programs and transition services and made 52 recommendations to improve and extend delivery of those services.