Veteran Suicide

Ms WELLS (Lilley) (13:34): On behalf of the five RSLs in my electorate of Lilley, on the north side of Brisbane—RSLs that have earned and deserve a voice in this parliament and deserve to be heard—I call on the government to listen to them and establish a royal commission into veteran suicides as soon as possible. We cannot wait; we cannot risk more lives. This week, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed that the suicide rate amongst male veterans who had left the armed services was almost one-fifth higher than Australian men in the general population. Four hundred and nineteen serving, reservist and ex-service men and women took their own lives between 2001 and 2017. Two hundred and twenty-nine of those men and women had left the Defence Force at the time. These are deeply troubling statistics and reveal nothing short of a crisis.

The shocking rate of suicide deaths amongst veterans has to be addressed. We need to identify what services, what education and what opportunities we are not supplying. We need to listen to veterans who have struggled with their own mental health or have lost mates, and we need to find out what they need. Families are worried about their loved ones who are away and serving. They shouldn't have to be worried when their loved ones are back home as well. As elected representatives, we need to investigate why so many veterans are taking their own lives and determine what measures are needed to stop these tragic deaths. I call upon the government to establish a royal commission now.