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Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and National Action Plan

Mental Health Summit — 26 June 2019

On 26 June 2019, the Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel, the Hon Darren Chester MP, convened a national summit of experts (the Summit) in veteran mental health and suicide prevention to reshape the 10-year Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and to focus on a National Action Plan to improve veteran mental health and wellbeing.

The Summit was the first step in a series of consultations to ensure veterans and their families shape the Government's response to these important issues. Read more about the Summit.

The Summit identified four priority areas for the National Action Plan to address. These four areas will be used to shape the actions that will be put in place to improve veteran mental health and wellbeing. As a starting point, attendees at the Summit proposed a number of actions for each of these priority areas, as shown below.

In addition, DVA commissioned the creation of an Environmental Scan of Mental Health in Australia:

This document provides context of the broader mental health system and potential future directions which may inform the Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

Co-design Workshop — 25 September 2019

A group of people in rows, co-design workshop attendeesOn 25 September 2019, DVA convened a co-design workshop to inform the Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and National Action Plan. The workshop was attended by 39 participants. Participants included veterans, family members, ex-service organisation members, representatives from state and territory governments and the Departments of Defence and Health. The focus of the discussion throughout the session was on identifying the guiding principles that will inform the Strategy until 2023, developing key actions within each of the priority areas, and determining how to evaluate the success of actions. The outcomes of this session will feed directly into the draft Strategy and National Action Plan.

A summary report of the workshop and key outputs is available:

Priority areas

A young woman is seated sharing a document with a woman, who has her back to the camera.Health Care

  • Introduce new models of care — wrap-around support, coordinated care
  • Address parity of health provider payments
  • Incorporate adjunct therapies and new ideas
  • Leverage evidence-based suicide prevention programs
  • Address health workforce shortages
  • Focus on treatment quality and efficacy
  • Provide incentives for wellness, not illness
  • Integrate with community services, holistic approach
  • Persist in offering services and reaching out to those in need of support

A young man, who has a brace on his wrist, is taking from a clothes rack a uniform in camoufalge material.Transition

  • Understand and address the loss of identity, community and purpose
  • Promote social connectedness throughout and after military service
  • Invest in preparing transitioning ADF personnel to re-enter the civilian community — moving from team back to individual
  • Promote employment as a key to successful transition (including cultural training for employers and employees)
  • Encourage help-seeking
  • Ensure the claims process is supportive, positive and responsive to veterans' needs


  • Foster transparent and collaborative action to co-design solutions and deliver commonly shared goals
  • Reward cross-sector collaboration for ex-service organisations (ESOs)
  • Empower veterans to help veterans — genuine engagement of lived experience
  • ESO Hubs — alignment, accreditation and rationalisation
  • Build new networks for veterans after service
  • Focus on and promote social connectedness

Engagement, Communication and Education

  • Promote good news stories, including those that show veterans recovering from illness and building wellness
  • Provide empowerment and hope
  • Cut through information to assist people access the system
  • Use innovative technology to enhance connectedness and help seeking
  • Ensure the advocacy system supports wellness not illness
  • Provide national leadership and local solutions
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