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Terms of reference

On 8 July 2021, the Governor-General His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) issued Letters Patent, which established the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

The Letters Patent set out the Royal Commissioners' terms of reference.

Royal Commission's term of reference - video guide

Video Transcript - Terms of reference

The terms of reference outline what the Royal Commission is looking into as part of its inquiry

They are deliberately broad and cover issues that may contribute to serving and ex-serving

Defence member suicide – such as mental health and wellbeing, claims, support services,

rehabilitation, and social or family contexts.

If your experience relates to any of the these, the Royal Commission wants to hear your story.

When you make a submission, you will be asked to select at least one of the terms of reference.

You can select one or more that you think apply to your experience.

For example: If you struggled during training or deployment

and were not able to continue your career in the Defence force this would relate to

the terms of reference point B. If you found that support services you and

your family needed were inaccessible or ineffective this would relate to points B, D and F.

If your mental health was impacted by financial strain or insecure housing this would relate

to point I. And If your submission is about what helped

you after a lived experience of suicide this would related to point E.

Pick the terms of reference that you think best fits with your story – it doesn't

need to exactly match and you might find that more than one apply.

You can pick the ones you feel most comfortable with.

Your story does not need to relate directly to suicide to make a submission.

If you are unsure which of the terms of reference your story relates to, we can help.

You can find the full terms of reference on our website, and we also have a simplified

Terms of reference

Terms of reference

Read the plain English terms of reference

The Commissioners are appointed to be a Commission of inquiry, and required and authorised to inquire into the following matters:

  1. systemic issues and any common themes among defence and veteran deaths by suicide, or defence members and veterans who have other lived experience of suicide behaviour or risk factors (including attempted or contemplated suicide, feelings of suicide or poor mental health outcomes);
  2. a systemic analysis of the contributing risk factors relevant to defence and veteran death by suicide, including the possible contribution of pre-service, service (including training and deployments), transition, separation and post-service issues, such as the following:
    1. the manner or time in which the defence member or veteran was recruited to the [the Australian Defence Force (the ADF)];
    2. the relevance, if any, of the particular branch, service or posting history, or the rank of the defence member or veteran;
    3. the manner or time in which the defence member or veteran transitioned from the ADF or transitioned between service categories;
    4. the availability, accessibility, timeliness and quality of health, wellbeing and support services (including mental health support services) to the defence member or veteran, and the effectiveness of such services;
    5. the manner and extent to which information about the defence member or veteran is held by and shared within and between different government entities;
    6. the reporting and recording of information, relevant to the mental and physical health of defence members and veterans, at enlistment and during and after service;
  3. the impact of culture within the ADF, the Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans' Affairs on defence members' and veterans' physical and mental wellbeing;
  4. the role of non-government organisations, including ex-service organisations, in providing relevant services and support for defence members, veterans, their families and others;
  5. protective and rehabilitative factors for defence members and veterans who have lived experience of suicide behaviour or risk factors;
  6. any systemic issues in the current availability and effectiveness of support services for, and in the engagement with, families and others:
    1. affected by a defence and veteran death by suicide; or
    2. who have supported a defence member or veteran with lived experience of suicide behaviour or risk factors;
  7. any systemic issues in the nature of defence members' and veterans' engagement with the Department of Defence, the Department of Veterans' Affairs or other Commonwealth, State or Territory government entities (including those acting on behalf of those entities) about support services, claims or entitlements relevant to defence and veteran deaths by suicide or relevant to defence members and veterans who have other lived experience of suicide behaviour or risk factors, including any systemic issues in engaging with multiple government entities;
  8. the legislative and policy frameworks, administered by the Department of Defence, the Department of Veterans' Affairs and other Commonwealth, State or Territory government entities, relating to the support services, claims and entitlements referred to in paragraph (g);
  9. any systemic risk factors contributing to defence and veteran death by suicide, including the following:
    1. defence members' and veterans' social or family contexts;
    2. housing or employment issues for defence members and veterans;
    3. defence members' and veterans' economic and financial circumstances;
  10. any matter reasonably incidental to a matter referred to in paragraphs (a) to (i) or that [the Commissioners] believe is reasonably relevant to [their] inquiry.