An open letter to the ADF and Veteran community

Anyone who has spent time with serving or ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force knows what remarkable men and women we have protecting our nation.

20 November 2020

Joining the Navy, Army or RAAF, means living a life that offers both great rewards and great challenges.  It also means you are willing to risk your life for your country and Australia will always be eternally grateful for the courage, service and sacrifice of these brave men and women.

Yesterday the Chief of the Defence Force released the findings of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) Afghanistan Inquiry.  The Government has put in place mechanisms to deal with these findings and it is important that we let that process take its course.

However that does not take away from the fact that the process may take a toll on the veteran community.  The release of the findings may cause concern or anxiety to those serving, to our veterans or their families.

Our message is simple – we are not here to judge, we are here to help.

Our defence forces have a long history of serving this nation with distinction and honour, and we are there for you. To anyone who is serving, has served, or who is close to a serving or ex-serving member, please remember:

  • You should be immensely proud of your service, or your loved one’s service, and there is overwhelming respect from the broader Australian community for your service and sacrifice.
  • If you need help dealing with the findings, reach out and get the specialist support you need. Support is readily available through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and is routinely used by thousands of serving personnel and veterans every year.
  • Families, particularly children and teenagers, could also be affected by the impact of the Inquiry and there is support available for them as well.

Support Services

For all current ADF members and their families, the Defence all-hours Support Line is a confidential telephone and online service and is available on 1800 628 036.

All current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families can access Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling. It is a national mental health service that provides 24-hour free and confidential counselling. Importantly the Open Arms website provides a range of self-help resources and wellbeing tools. Visit www.openarms.gov.au or phone 1800 011 046.

In addition, Safe Zone Support is an anonymous counselling service that has been established to support veterans and their families impacted by the IGADF Inquiry.  Safe Zone Support is manned by specialist counsellors who have an understanding of military culture and experience and can be accessed at: www.openarms.gov.au/safe-zone-support or 1800 142 072.

Family of veterans or service personnel, who are concerned about the impact the Inquiry may have on a loved one, can call DVA to seek guidance on the support available. If you are unsure what support is available please contact DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).

Information about support services can also be found on the DVA website at www.dva.gov.au/igadf-afghanistan-inquiry-welfare-support-services.

If you know someone in need, please pass on this important message – DVA is there to help.

The Defence qualities of loyalty, resilience, teamwork, leadership, personal integrity, sacrifice and respect for themselves and others, remain and Australia thanks you for your service.

Yours faithfully

Darren Chester
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel

Liz Cosson
Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs