The Royal Commission into Defence and Veterans Suicide

This memo is to make you aware of the Terms of Reference consultation process for the Royal Commission and to discount any media and social media reporting where veterans and families may not feel confident in making submissions.

The Royal Australian Regiment Association through its twelve Battalion Associations and the seven serving Battalions is urging veterans and families to make submissions direct to the Royal Commission to ensure that all veterans and families voices are heard.

The RARA will be making its own submissions. But we encourage anyone who has been affected, or a mate or a family member that has been affected, to make a submission to the Royal Commission here

Submissions will close of on the 21st May 2021 so we will all need to get cracking if we want to contribute.

Some key points that may assure you of the process: –

  • The Royal Commission is independent from DVA and the ADF.
  • While DVA, through the responsible Minister, is collecting feedback for the terms of reference, this will all be provided to the Attorney Generals (AG) Department, which then drafts the final Terms of Reference.
  • DVA does not “filter” or “block” submissions received. DVA is purely the administrator for submissions received which must be passed on to the AG.
  • Please do not send personal stories or experiences to the consultation at this time.

Purely as a guide but not necessarily complete at this time, as we the RARA consult further, the areas we are suggesting that need pursuing as a part of the TOR are:

  • The transition processes from signing on to separation and reestablishment into civilian society;
  • The current psychological enlistment standards and recruitment KPI’s;
  • The use of Mefloquine and other related drugs, its administration and impact;
  • The ADF management of wounded injured or ill members pre and post separation;
  • The ADF internal complaint process and chain of command management;
  • The failings and competency of the Military Legal Services Branch;
  • The counselling and support for members separating with less than 12 months service;
  • The DVA’s excessive use of contract labour (46%);
  • The competency of DVA’s claims processes re delays and disruptions, and
  • The ADF Leadership.

There will be more by the end date but purely to give you and idea as to some of the areas where we have had considerable experience and where we have identified major concerns and problems.

In conclusion, we encourage you all to participate if you feel that you have an issue that should be raised. This is going to be our only chance for many years to “make a difference” in particular for our younger veterans.

My personal view is that we must give this our best shot collectively to assist where we can to prevent suicide by our veterans. Please support this where you can and follow the rules in making submissions as advised on the website here.

Duty First

Michael von Berg MC OAM,

Chair and National President
The Royal Australian Regiment Association


  1. les turner says

    WHY all these suicides?? surely not all were because of the ADF service. Some had very short def service.Remembering that many of these were receiving $200plus per day extra in their pay for their tours of AFGHANASTAN,tours of 3to 5 months.Aboard naval vessels,in airforce bases. Not physically in contact with the enemy 24 hrs a day.VV infantry Bn done 12months,many regular soldiers had TWO TOURS. AATTV some 3 or 4 tours of 12 months.What i amsuggesting that maybe thier PERSONAL life, returning to wives and family,was notas stable as when they were deployed.Summing up I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT ADF SERVICE WAS A MAJOR FACTOR IN MANY OF THESE SUICIDES.