Joint Statement - Department of Defence and Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Today, the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs received the Report of the Victorian Coroner, Coroner Jacqui Hawkins of the Findings of the Inquest into the Death of Jesse Bird.
Mr Jesse Bird was an Australian Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, who tragically died by suicide on 27 June 2017 at the age of 32.
The Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs will carefully consider Coroner Hawkins’ findings and will provide a response to the Coroner.
Any Australian veteran who needs help and wishes to access mental health support is encouraged to reach out.
Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling provides 24-hour free and confidential counselling, group programs and suicide prevention training to former and currently serving ADF personnel and their family members. This service is available on 1800 011 046.
DVA and Department of Defence – Joint Inquiry into the facts surrounding the management of Mr Jesse Bird’s case
Following Jesse’s death in June 2017, DVA and the Department of Defence undertook a Joint Inquiry into the facts surrounding his death, which made 19 recommendations.
All 19 recommendations were accepted and (as at 1 April 2020) 15 of the 19 recommendations have been completed. An updated progress report on the implementation of the Joint Inquiry recommendations will be published soon.
Initiatives implemented in response to the recommendations of the Joint Inquiry have directly assisted more than 7000 veterans and their families, and include:
- Funding of $16.1 million over four years announced in October 2017 for a new Veteran Payment for financially vulnerable veterans claiming mental health conditions.
- Controls are in place to ensure incapacity payment claims are processed immediately upon the determination of the claim.
- DVA staff members have discussions around client’s need at many points in the claims assessment process. This ensures that clients with immediate needs receive the support they require in a timely manner, such as mental health services and income support (such as the veteran payment).
- DVA’s Triage and Connect function has been implemented, identifying and coordinating appropriate actions by providing a single ‘front door’ for all staff to escalate complex and high risk clients for assessment and tailored response to their needs.
- The Coordinated Client Support (CCS) service provides assistance and tailored support to complex and high needs clients. It enables them to access critical benefits and services in a timely and professional manner. As well as accepting referrals from DVA, CCS also accepts referrals from Open Arms and the Australian Defence Force.
- Information to help staff identify high risk clients and processes for staff to escalate cases has been developed and distributed to all staff.
- Changes to the Open Arms informed consent form and process have been changes to allow for communication between Open Arms and DVA where a client is deemed to be at-risk, or where a client consents to the sharing of information.
Defence Media: media [at] defence.gov.au (02) 6127 1999
DVA Media: media.team [at] dva.gov.au