1. How to assist veterans in crisis

What is a crisis?

A crisis is any critical situation in which the veteran is significantly emotionally upset and feels they are unable to cope.  It may be due to personal or external circumstances.

Common factors contributing to a crisis situation for a veteran may include:

  • undiagnosed or poorly managed physical and mental health conditions
  • alcohol or drug use
  • relationship issues
  • social isolation, and
  • a reluctance or unwillingness to address or acknowledge problems.

Crisis identification and referral table

Veterans’ circumstances, symptoms or behaviours

Crisis category group

Who to contact

How to refer for assistance

Is threatening harm to self or others





Emergency Services


The Mental Health Triage team at the local hospital



Local Medical Officer (GP)

Direct contact by phone – call 000

Is in need of immediate medical review or treatment


Direct contact by phone or transport to Emergency section of local public hospital

Is drug or alcohol affected.

Direct contact by phone

Is separated from the family unit and has identified problems such as being served with an Apprehended Violence Order or is involved in a shared parenting issue







VVCS – business hours


Veterans Line – after hours


Local Community Support Agencies

Direct contact by phone

Can self manage but needs alternative accommodation away from the family home until the issues leading to the crisis are addressed in some way






VVCS – business hours


Veterans Line – after hours


Local Community Support Agencies

Direct contact by phone

Local Community Support Agencies may include:

  • Relationships Australia
  • Lifeline
  • Legal Aid
  • Poisons Information Centre – Phone 131126

How do You Respond?

Seek Assistance – you have some options for assistance, but first, decide whether you think the veteran concerned will harm themselves or others.  If you think this is possible you should immediately call Police, Ambulance, the nearest Public Hospital Mental Health Triage Team or Poisons Information Centre if they have taken poison or harmful substances.

Although you may think there is no physical danger to the veteran or others, it is important  that you seek assistance from trained health professionals or crisis counsellors, if alcohol, medication or drug abuse is involved.

Help for the Helper

Often trying to help others has problems of its own.  You may feel:

  • distressed or helpless about the other person’s situation
  • angry or frustrated that the person did not seem able to help themselves or that organisations couldn’t do more
  • and/or torn between your loyalty to or sympathy for the veteran and your understanding of the limits of services that exist in the community
  • and/or overwhelmed with the extent of your involvement in trying to help someone else.

Helping others through a crisis situation can leave you with these questions or reactions.  They are not unusual.  Talking to someone familiar with crisis situations can be helpful.

For assistance, referrals and further information

Please contact VVCS – Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service on:

1800 011 046 (Nationally)

  • During business hours, connects you to the nearest VVCS centre.  There are 15 centres located across Australia.
  • After hours, connects you to Veterans Line, the after hours telephone crisis counselling service.