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The Royal Commission’s offices will be closed from 5:00 pm Thursday 25 January to 9:00 am Monday 29 January 2024 (AEDT). If you are seeking urgent or crisis support please reach out to a crisis service. Crisis support services are available 24/7.

First Nations Stakeholder Resource Toolkit

The Royal Commission is interested in hearing from First Nations people about their experience with the Navy, Army or Air Force. First Nation people, including family, are encouraged to share their story any time until 13 October 2023. The Royal Commission has put together some First Nations targeted resources for sharing information with and supporting First Nations people to share their stories or to know more about the Royal Commission.

Videos

What the Royal Commission is and why it’s important

Video Transcript – What the Royal Commission is and why it's important

Many of our mob have served or are serving in the Navy, Army or Air Force.

For some of us, things might have happened that made us feel no good or worried.

A Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide is happening now.

The Royal Commission is a group of people, the Commissioners, who are listening to people around the country about what has happened to them in the Navy, Army or Air Force.

They also want to hear from family who have been affected.

It could be about suicide or it might be about mental health, recruitment, or how you felt when you left the service.

Sharing your story could help improve mental health and help stop suicide among people in the Defence Force. It can help other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by creating a safer future for people in the Navy, Army or Air Force.

To find out how you can share your story with the Royal Commission, call 1800 329 095 or visit defenceveteransuicide.royalcommission.gov.au

If thinking or talking about this makes you feel no good, you can call 13 Yarn or 13 92 76 or visit 13yarn.org.au to get some help from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander crisis supporter.

How to share your story and what support is available

Video Transcript – How to share your story and what support is available

Have you or one of your mob served in the Defence Force?

Do you have a story about something that wasn't right that you want to share?

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide is listening and wants to hear from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people about serving in the Navy, Army or Air Force.

Your story might be about your own service or about a family member.

You can share your story in a way and at a time that works for you.

This could include writing your story or recording it as a video or audio message.

You can send it to the Royal Commission through their website at defenceveteransuicide.royalcommission.gov.au or email it to dvsrc.enquiries@royalcommission.gov.au

Sharing your story is safe and private. You don't need to give your name.

There's still lots of time to get ready to share your story.

You can send it to the Royal Commission any time before October 2023.

If you need help to share your story, you can call the Royal Commission on 1800 329 095 or ask someone like your local health service for support.

If thinking or talking about this makes you feel no good, you can call 13 Yarn or 13 92 76 any time or visit 13yarn.org.au to get some help from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander crisis supporter.

First Nations Video Case Study – Aunty Tina and Uncle Mic

Video Transcript – Aunty Tina and Uncle Mic’s Story

We ask the ancestors to bless us with the knowledge that we're here today to share knowledge, to give us the gift of giving knowledge, and we bring nothing with us. And we take nothing. Unless it’s...

It's given.

Unless it's given. My name is Tina or Yarumpa. I'm an Arrente elder. I'm Palawa bloodline. And my blood name is Yarumpa and I'm also Palawa stolen generation from my mother's bloodline. And Uncle?

I’m Mic. Or Michael. I'm originally from Tasmania, but I'm now accepted into country at Bindal, which is Burdekin, and I have been now for nearly 30 years. Somewhere along the line I decided that the military was going to be my lifestyle. In grade seven I announced that that's where I was going, at school, and I did Army cadets through high school. And the progression was after I left high school, I went to the Army Reserves and joined them and became a truck driver. Through that period, I got accepted after I applied for the regular army itself. So I knew my progression was all the way through.

And I joined because of Dad. So I joined as a civilian, went through the recruitment process in 1987 and found out I was pregnant, so then pulled back and decided to join as a civilian and I joined as a Nursing Unit Manager with Lavarack Barracks and worked in the Medical Corps.

I don't speak a great deal of it, about my time. Between Army Reserves and regular army 21 years and I was part of three different corps, I was transport, I was catering, and then I was ordnance. The travel was awesome, and with the travel you got to meet other cultured people, which ... that's what I needed because I'd lost my aspect of who I was, leaving Tassie, so I made it my career to meet new people in different places. It wasn't my time to leave. That was the hard part for me.

The cultural support wasn't there. We'd gone through...

My body had been through a lot. I'd put my body through a lot. I’d damaged things to my body that I couldn't be an 18-year-old anymore, even though I changed course and started my career off again and it was progressing quite well. One day it decided to give in and that's when I lost my career.

I had the opportunity myself as a First Nations woman and a partner and a daughter and a sister to speak to the Commissioners first hand in a yarning circle. It was completely comfortable and supportive, and I felt like I had been heard for the first time in a really, really long time. And I've been through the journey, Mic and I've been together for 30 years. And as a spouse, it's really frustrating when you're sitting on the corner being, you're not the serving member. You can't have any of that information. You're not ... you don't have the rights to that info. But to finally be given the opportunity, especially as a First Nations woman, to be able to stand there and say, this is my story, this happened to me, this happened to my husband, to my man. I felt really empowered and I felt really proud of myself at the end of it. Like I had done something really enriching and powerful.

I think we definitely need to take into consideration the cultural safety and time and by time I mean Dadirri; deep time, deep learning, deep space, deep listening, to support them in the ways that they can feel strong and comfortable coming forward and maybe even allowing them to know that their voice is really, really important. So important. Our ways. Our ways have been ...

Well if these ways have worked for this many years why can't they listen to it and see that it does work? The story needs to be told, needs to be out there. Get it out there, let them know (Tina: Be strong) this is what's, what's happened. Be, yeah, be strong about it. Bring it to the light.

The Royal Commission welcomes submissions from First Nations people with lived experience of Defence or veteran suicide. Share your story. To make a submission, visit defenceveteransuicide.royalcommission.gov.au or call 1800 329 095.

Downloadable resources

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First Nations Toolkit
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First Nations Conversation Guide
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First Nations A4 Flyer
First Nations A4 Storyboard tile image

First Nations A4 Storyboard

Contact

If you have questions about the toolkit please contact the Communications and Community Engagement team at the Royal Commission via email at:

DVSRC.communityengagement@royalcommission.gov.au or phone 1800 329 095.