An Australian veteran who served in Afghanistan, Jesse Bird, tragically died of suicide on 27 June 2017 at the age of 32.
After Jesse’s death, then Minister for Veterans Affairs, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, asked the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Department of Defence, and the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (now Open Arms) to examine the management of his case. The resulting Joint Inquiry was completed in September 2017. It made 19 recommendations focused on improving services for veterans seeking compensation and support.
In 2017, the Government accepted the 19 recommendations of the Joint Inquiry and committed to an independent review of the implementation of their recommendations. The independent review, completed March 2019 by Emeritus Professor Robin Creyke, informed progress and actions in relation to the recommendations of the Joint Inquiry.
A coronial inquest into the factors that contributed to Jesse Bird’s death was held in the Coroners Court of Victoria, with findings handed down in April 2020.
Victorian Coroner Jacqui Hawkins found “Jesse’s death was the catalyst for comprehensive system-wide review and reform of DVA and Defence processes […] Jesse’s legacy has ensured that both Defence and DVA now better identify, support, assist and compensate veterans at risk of, or suffering from, psychological injuries”.
Coroner Hawkins made five recommendations at the conclusion of the inquest. A joint response to these recommendations was provided to the Coroners Court of Victoria on 7 July 2020.
Receive urgent help
Any Australian veteran who needs help and wishes to access mental health support is encouraged to reach out.
These services are confidential and available 24 hours a day. If life is in danger, call 000
Mental health support services
Free counselling, treatment programs and suicide prevention training — 1800 011 046
ADF Support Line
Support for ADF personnel and their families to access mental health services — 1800 628 036
Crisis support and suicide prevention help — 131 114
Help for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse — 1800 737 732
Joint Defence / DVA Inquiry into the facts surrounding the management of Jesse Bird's case
Following the death of Private Jesse Bird, the then Minister for Veterans' Affairs, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, asked the Departments of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) and Department of Defence (DoD) to thoroughly examine his case. A series of review recommendations have been made by the Joint Inquiry into the facts surrounding the management of Jesse's case.
In 2017, the Government committed to an independent review of the implementation of the recommendations of the Joint Defence / DVA Inquiry into the Jesse Bird case after 12 months.
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs appointed Emeritus Professor Robin Creyke AO to conduct this review (Media release).
The Terms of Reference for the review were:
The completed review can be found here: Report — Independent review — Jesse Bird Joint Inquiry (PDF 1.88 MB)
Progress of implementation
31 May 2020
The following update details DVA's progress on the recommendations as at the date recorded on the table, taking into account the findings and suggested actions of Professor Creyke’s independent review.
The update recognises that for a small number of recommendations, implementation is ongoing, and closely aligned with DVA's journey of continuous improvement and Transformation program — putting veterans and their families first.
31 December 2018
The following is an update of the implementation of the recommendations of the Joint Defence / DVA Inquiry into the Jesse Bird case.
The update represents a snapshot of DVA's progress on the recommendations as at the date recorded on the table. The update recognises that DVA has further work to do on implementing the recommendations of the Inquiry, many of which are closely aligned with DVA's ongoing journey of continuous improvement and the Veteran Centric Reform program.
Coronial Inquest into the death of Jesse Bird
On 7 April 2020, the Victorian Coroner Jacqui Hawkins handed down her findings of the inquest into the circumstances surrounding the death of Jesse Bird.
A copy of Coroner Hawkins’ findings can be found on the Coroners Court of Victoria web site.
The Australian Government’s response to Coroner Hawkins’ Finding can be found here:
A joint statement on the receipt of the report from the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs can be found here.