Our approach to improving the mental health and wellbeing of veterans and their families recognises that good mental health is supported by whole of life wellbeing. DVA works with veterans and their families to improve services and support for those who have served in the ADF, and continues to play a part in improving mental health and wellbeing outcomes, and reducing the risk of suicide.
Veterans' mental health and wellbeing is everyone’s business—government, peak health bodies, health and service providers, veterans, families, friends, employers, community organisations, and the ex-service organisation (ESO) community. We work closely with Defence, the ADF and other key agencies to ensure that veterans and their families are serving, living and ageing well, and we empower health professionals to deliver the best care possible. We engage with serving personnel from enlistment through to transition and into civilian life.
Veterans, current serving members, families, government, researchers, peak health bodies, service providers and ESOs all collaborated on the design of the Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and National Action Plan. A broad range of consultation activities were undertaken through existing forums, online communications and via veteran community networks in the second half of 2019 and early 2020.
• Download the Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and National Action Plan 2020-2023
Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit – 26 June 2019
On 26 June 2019, the then Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel, the Hon Darren Chester MP, convened a national summit of experts (the Summit) in veterans' 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 veterans' mental health and wellbeing.
The Summit was the first step in a series of consultations to ensure veterans and their families had the opportunity to 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—Health Care; Transition; Partnerships; and Engagement, Communication and Education. These four areas were used to shape the Strategy and actions to be undertaken over the next four years 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.
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 was used to inform the Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and National Action Plan.
Co-design Workshop – 25 September 2019
On 25 September 2019, DVA convened a co-design workshop to inform the Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy and Action Plan. The workshop was attended by 39 individuals. Participants included veterans, family members, ESO 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 informing the Strategy until 2023 and developing key actions within each of the priority areas. The outcomes of this session fed directly into the Strategy and National Action Plan.
A summary report of the workshop and key output is available:
Defence Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2018-2023
Defence released its five-year Defence Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2018-2023 in October 2017, which aims to optimise the mental health and wellbeing of current ADF members and their families through all phases of their careers and life—to be ‘Fit to Fight, Fit to Work and Fit for Life’.
Previous DVA Strategies
The previous DVA Veteran Mental Health Strategy (2013-2023) outlined a 10-year framework and objectives to support the mental health and wellbeing of the veteran and ex-service community. The strategy:
- identified principles and a vision for the mental health and wellbeing of the veteran and the ex-service community;
- set the context for the provision of mental health services and addressing mental health needs in the veteran and ex-service community for the next 10 years; and
- established strategic objectives, underpinned by a person-centred approach to guide mental health policy and programs, with implementation activity detailed in an action plan.
The Social Health Strategy (2015–2023) set out objectives to support the health and wellbeing of the veteran and ex-service community. The strategy:
- provided a vision and set out principles to support the social health of the veteran and ex service community;
- set the context for the conduct of DVA’s social health programs and activities to address the social health needs of the veteran and ex-service community; and
- established five strategic objectives to guide DVA’s social health policy and programs.
These strategic objectives are still relevant and apply today; however, the broader mental health system has changed and continues to change, with the Australian Government making mental health and suicide prevention a key government priority.