Herbert MP welcomes National Commissioner Appointment
Herbert MP and veteran Phillip Thompson has welcomed the appointment of an interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.
Attorney-General Christian Porter has announced Dr Bernadette Boss CSC will soon begin the task of identifying the causes of, and means to address, the incidence of suicide among the ADF and veteran community.
Mr Thompson said Dr Boss was an appropriate choice for interim National Commissioner.
“Dr Boss has significant experience in both the legal field and military, but she also started her career as a nurse, which means she knows what it’s like to be at the coal face of this issue,” Mr Thompson said.
“The fact that she has already held inquests and hearings into ADF and veteran suicides before means she comes to the role with a deep understanding of the issues at hand.
“Dr Boss also has experience as a Magistrate and Coroner which means she knows how to run a hearing and ensure proper practice is followed.
“This is such a critical issue, and it’s important that we get this right. With Dr Boss starting in an interim capacity while we wait for legislation to pass through Parliament to make the role permanent, we are making sure we’re wasting as little time as possible in preventing future unnecessary deaths.
Mr Thompson said he had spoken to dozens of families of ADF members and veterans who had lost their lives about the establishment of the National Commissioner.
“The overwhelming majority of the people I speak to are supportive of this move because they know it will make a real difference for many years to come,” he said.
“This National Commissioner will have the powers of a Royal Commission but will work on an ongoing basis instead of having an end date and a single report.
“I’ve buried too many of my mates who’ve died by suicide, and too many mothers and fathers have had to bury too many of their sons and daughters because of this terrible issue that’s been developed.
“I have every faith that Dr Boss – along with the recently appointed Veteran Family Advocate Gwen Cherne – will be able to make real inroads to move towards our goal of zero suicides within the ADF and veteran community.”
Following the passage of legislation, the National Commissioner will have enduring power, scope and resources to inquire into deaths by suicide, and will support future wellbeing and suicide prevention efforts, by identifying the need for any system-wide reforms, or new approaches to support ADF members and veterans.
Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling provides free and confidential support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Help is available 24/7 on 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au.
For further information on the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention, visit www.nationalcommissionerdvsp.gov.au.