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Successive governments have failed veterans and their families when it comes to addressing heightened suicide rates, the minister for veterans has admitted.

More soldiers and veterans have taken their own lives than the number killed in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Veterans Minister Matt Keogh says that statistic is devastating.

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Matt Keogh.

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Matt Keogh.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“It is a great tragedy that successive Australian governments have failed those who have served our nation,” he will tell parliament today.

“Governments have also failed the families of those people, families who have carried a heavy burden of their own through the pain and suffering they have experienced.”

During his response to the interim report of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, Keogh will pledge to provide a formal response to the findings as soon as possible.

The report found the entire system for serving and ex-serving defence personnel “needs to be re-imagined and re-engineered” due to how complicated it is.


Labor pledged to remove department staffing caps and recruit an additional 500 staff to help clear the claims backlog, deliver better support and roll out a further 10 hubs for veterans and families.

“Our government is committed to the task of saving lives and ensuring a better future for our Defence and veteran communities,” Keogh will say, according to a copy of his speech.

“After years of reports, too many deaths, too many lives changed for the worse and endless discussion. It’s time to get on with it.”

Royal commission submissions remain open until October 13, 2023.

If you need assistance, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Open Arms:1800 011 046.


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