| September 04, 2017

Vietnam Veterans Association of Echuca-Moama

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with Ken Jones and Bob Barker from the Vietnam Veterans Association of Echuca-Moama. Ken and Bob wanted to meet me to raise issues that veterans are facing locally and nationally. We talked a lot about the large number of suicides and mental health issues in the veterans and serving members community. According to a report conducted by the National Mental Health Commission in March this year, between 2000 and 2016 there were 119 confirmed suicides of serving members in the ADF, and from 2001 to 2016 there were 150 confirmed suicides of veterans. Another striking statistic is that between 2000 and 2016 there were 986 hospitalisations of veterans or their family members due to self-harm, and 789 of these events were individual cases. These statistics are horrendous and it is up to all of us to work together to help the people who have served our nation.

The federal government has made a leap forward in trying to solve these issues. Minister Tehan made the first annual ministerial statement on veterans and their families, outlining a number of areas where the federal government can improve services. For example, the Department of Defence didn't have the capacity to notify the Department of Veterans' Affairs when a serving member became a veteran. The minister has changed that so that now, when a member leaves the ADF, they are automatically registered with the DVA. I thank Ken and Bob for meeting with me, and I hope that the government can continue to help our veterans in our community.

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