Development of the Defence and Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy

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Defence and DVA are working together to develop a new joint Defence and Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

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The Australian Government recognises the sacrifices made by current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and families on behalf of the nation, and is committed to ensuring they have access to the right mental health support and services at the right time.

Supporting the mental health of veterans and families and reducing the risk of suicide is a key priority for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and the Department of Defence (Defence).

This is reflected in the current Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and National Action Plan 2020‑2023 , released in May 2020, and the Defence Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2018-2023  (PDF 3.48 MB)

Both strategies are due to expire at the end of 2023.

Defence and DVA are working together to develop a new joint Defence and Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy (the strategy) in 2023.

Working in concert to develop the strategy will enable Defence and DVA to adopt a coordinated approach to meeting the mental health and wellbeing needs of serving members and veterans along a lifetime continuum – during service, transition, and life post-transition.

This approach aligns with the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry Report, A Better Way to Support Veterans that called for a new single mental health strategy for veterans’ lifetime mental health (Recommendation 17.4).

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Developing the strategy

A joint approach will enable Defence and DVA to fully consider the implications of and alignment with the broader strategic landscape, and the whole-of-government priority to improve mental health outcomes and reduce the risk of suicide for all Australians.

The strategy will be designed to align with best practice and respond to emerging priorities during a period of significant reform, with careful consideration of the ongoing work of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide (the Royal Commission) and to the evolving whole-of-government policy architecture.

It is anticipated the strategy will have a universal focus on mental health and wellbeing, and be supported by action plans which will articulate how Defence and DVA will implement the priorities identified within the strategy.

Currently there are other related strategies under development, including the Defence and Veteran Family Engagement and Support Strategy and the Veteran Transition Strategy.

Defence and DVA acknowledge the connection between these strategies and maintaining cohesion with these will be a key consideration throughout development.

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Stakeholder engagement approach

Defence and DVA will consult widely in the development of the strategy, including with mental health experts, researchers, peak associations, federal, state and territory governments, ex-service organisations, current serving and transitioning members, current Defence Australian Public Service workforce, and veterans and families.

Defence and DVA recognise the importance of lived experience. A coordinated engagement approach will ensure the strategy focuses on the unique experiences and diverse needs of Defence and veteran communities.

Consultation for the strategy is currently underway.

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Have your say: Webinar Sessions

We want to hear from members of the veteran and Defence community to inform the Defence and Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy. The strategy aims to capture mental health needs at all life stages of current and ex-serving military members, from recruitment to separation, transition, and through to civilian life post-service.

To ensure the strategy meets the diverse needs of our communities, we need to hear the views of those in the Defence and veteran community. It is an opportunity for you to have a say in what matters to you and help ensure the strategy reflects the needs, priorities and aspirations of our community.

The strategy will inform our joint approach to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of defence personnel and the veteran community over the next five years.

We would like to invite you to community webinars that will be occurring on:

  • Thursday 5 October - 18:00 -19:00 (AEST)
  • Monday 9 October - 18:00 - 19:00 (AEST)

Please choose one date that suits you and visit this link to register online.

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Veteran survey

Thank you for your participation in this survey, which closed on Monday 28 August 2023.

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Counselling and support

If you need support, please call:

  • Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling 1800 011 046
  • Safe Zone Support (anonymous counselling) 1800 142 072
  • ADF Mental Health All-hours Support Line 1800 628 036
  • Defence Family Helpline 1800 624 608
  • Lifeline 13 11 14
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