Royal Commission update
The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide continues its inquiry through a variety of means including public hearings roundtables and workshops. The next public hearings will be held in Perth from 15 May 2023, with further hearings expected to be held in Adelaide and Melbourne during the second half of 2023.
DVA continues to support veterans and families during the inquiry and understands it is a difficult time.
All veterans and families can contact Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling for free support and counselling (available 24/7 on 1800 011 046). Those who wish to remain anonymous can contact Safe Zone Support on 1800 142 072.
There is still time to contribute to the Royal Commission. Submissions will remain open until 13 October 2023. They can be made anonymously and the Royal Commission has indicated it is keen to learn about all aspects of military life. You can make a submission online via the ‘Make a submission’ link on the home page of the Royal Commission’s website, or by calling 1800 329 095 to request a mailed submission form.
The Defence & Veterans Legal Service provides free and independent information and legal support to assist Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and veterans, as well as their families, carers and supporters, to safely share their experiences with the Royal Commission. Further details about these services can also be found on the Service’s website.
How we release information
The Interim Report by the Royal Commission, which was handed down on 11 August 2022, contained a number of recommendations for immediate action. Recommendations 9 to 13 in the Interim Report apply to DVA and the Department of Defence. They focus on improving the way information is released, and on the development of educational material and support available to ADF members, veterans and family members when they request access to information or records held by each department.
DVA and Defence have been working together to jointly implement a number of measures to respond to Recommendations 9 to 13. These measures are the result of consultations held last year. During the consultations, feedback was received from participants consisting of serving and ex-serving members, family members and representatives. Ways to enhance the experience of accessing information were co-designed, which has ensured that serving ADF members, veterans and families remain at the heart of the departments’ response.
DVA has introduced a number of improvements that were identified as important to participants through the co-design process. These include new and updated material available on our departmental website, which clarifies the different ways of accessing information. Other improvements include the publication of guidelines on administrative release and redactions on our website. The guidelines outline the process for assessing administrative access release requests and outline the reasons why some information may not be released.
Ultimately, with these measures in place, applicants will be better supported as they navigate the information-access process. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the information provided and any feedback on further enhancements we could make.
To learn more about accessing information through DVA or to provide feedback on these changes, visit the Accessing Information page on the DVA web site. You can also contact DVA’s Information Access Unit by calling 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) or via email (information.access [at] dva.gov.au).