Royal Commission into Defence & Veteran Suicide – Newsletter Edition 4 – 4 March 2022

Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide logo on a background of an ochre coloured abstract field

Picture taken at the Sydney Hearing Block 2, Commissioners Kaldas can be seen
sitting behind a desk speaking.

Hearing Block 3 – Sydney
The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide will hold its third public hearing in Sydney at the Pullman Hotel, Hyde Park from Monday 7 March to Thursday 17 March, 2022. People with lived experience, experts and representatives from relevant government organisations will present evidence to the Commissioners during the hearing block. “I cannot emphasise enough how important these voices are. Your experiences are informing our investigation, and ultimately will help to shape the recommendations we’ll put forward to help save lives.” – Commissioner Nick Kaldas during Hearing Block 2.

Please be aware that these hearings may contain material and images that are triggering for some people. The public nature of the hearings also means that there may be people in military uniform, as well as military service providers in attendance.

Brisbane private sessions Despite the weather and flooding conditions being declared a disaster in Queensland, the Commissioners were able to hear the stories of a number of people with lived experience during private sessions held in Brisbane over the past week.

Overwhelmingly, participants elected to continue with scheduled sessions – a strong testament of the importance for people to be able to speak with the Commissioners directly.

The Royal Commission acknowledges the courage all individuals who come forward to share their stories and experiences, and wishes those in flood affected areas a swift and safe recovery.

Danny Liversidge shares his experience with the Commission

Image of former RAAF member and lived experience witness, Danny Liversidge. This
image is also a link to his video talking about his experience with the Royal Commission.

Former RAAF member and lived experience witness, Danny Liversidge, provided evidence during Hearing Block 2. He has shared his story about making a submission and ultimately speaking at a hearing. Danny said: “the Royal Commission has just given me a platform to be able to tell my story, in my way, in my words … I can’t guarantee it will be a joyous process, but it will be a supported process and I think you’ll feel better afterwards”.

All voices and stories are welcome
The Royal Commission has so far received more than 1,200 submissions from individuals and organisations. The Commission is interested in hearing from people with lived experiences – whether currently serving in the Defence force, former members, or a family member or someone who is supporting them.

These stories might not relate to suicide but could be about military service, mental health and individual experiences in the Defence force. The Commissioners want to discover themes and common experiences and identify ways to bring about real change for future serving and ex-serving Defence communities.

All submissions will be recorded, reviewed and used to inform the work of the Royal Commission. You can remain anonymous when you speak to the Commission.

Information about the submission process, appearing as a witness and applying for a private session is available on the Royal Commission website.

What to expect when you make a submission
When you share your story with the Royal Commission via the online submission form, an automatic acknowledgement is generated. Once you have completed your submission you will receive a confirmation of submission from [email protected] within a few minutes. To ensure you receive this email please add [email protected] to your contact list before you submit. If it doesn’t appear in your inbox within a few minutes, please check your spam or junk folder.

When received, submissions are carefully considered by Royal Commission solicitors, counsellors, policy staff and the Counsel Assisting. A Royal Commissioner counsellor may reach out to check in with you about support needs relating to your submission. Counsellors are available to work with you in a collaborative, and supportive way to help you participate in the Royal Commission. Speaking with our counselling team is voluntary, and you can decline counselling support if you do not require or want to access this support.

Every person has their own unique story to tell. The Royal Commission continues to hold hearings over the next 12 months across the country, and we will continue to hear from more people with lived experiences and explore a range of themes through our inquiries.

Unfortunately, not everyone who makes a submission will be able to appear at a hearing. Individuals who appear as a witness at public hearings will be contacted in advance and have the opportunity to discuss this with our counselling and support staff, Solicitors Assisting and Counsel Assisting. However, all of the people who take the time to share their story will be listened to and their contribution will help inform the Commissioners to make their final recommendations in August 2023.

Hearing Block 2 opening addresses
After each hearing, the Royal Commission shares transcripts, exhibits and essential documents with the public through the Royal Commission website. This includes the opening addresses from Chair of Commission Mr Nick Kaldas APM and Counsel Assisting.

The opening address of Counsel Assisting, Peter Gray QC, from Hearing Block 2 outlined the issues for urgent attention, future lines of inquiry, and the significance of listening to individuals with lived experience.

Enquiries
You can call us on 1800 329 095 or +61 2 5122 3105, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday to Friday AEDT, excluding public holidays.

For a free-of-charge translator or interpreter phone the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450. Ask to be connected to 02 5122 3105.

Or you can email us at [email protected]

Headshots of the three Commissioners - Dr Peggy Brown AO, Nick Kaldas, Chair and
The Hon. James Douglas QC