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HMAS Stirling a focus as Perth hearing enters second week

The health and wellbeing of navy personnel at Fleet Base West, near Perth, will come into focus as the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide’s ninth public hearing resumes today (Monday 22 May 2023).

Senior leadership will be questioned about the systemic nature of workplace pressures that are unique to the Royal Australian Navy, as well as associated risk factors for suicide and suicidality.

The inquiry will hear evidence about the structure of leadership at Fleet Base West, which comprises HMAS Stirling and Force Command Units, 60km south of Perth, and the various clinical services available to support the mental health and wellbeing of sailors while they’re on shore or at sea on deployment or operation.

The Royal Commission will also hear evidence of a disturbing number of suicide-related incidents at HMAS Stirling, home to approximately 2,000 personnel, in recent times.

Commission Chair Nick Kaldas said leadership and accountability within the Defence chain of command continue to be a key focus of the inquiry.

“I’ve said before that we, as a nation, need to be doing more to protect the health and wellbeing of those who put on a uniform everyday and go to work to protect us,” Commissioner Kaldas said.

“We will continue to shine a light where problematic cultural and systemic issues exist within Defence and ask tough questions of leadership about what they’re doing to fix those issues to support and protect their people.”

Later in the week, the Royal Commission’s focus will turn to inter-governmental support for serving and ex-serving ADF members.

WA Minister for Defence Industry and Veterans Issues, the Hon Paul Papalia CSC MLA, will be asked about state government support and how it interacts with Commonwealth initiatives.  

The Royal Commission’s Perth hearings will conclude on Thursday (25 May 2023). It will sit in Adelaide in July and Melbourne in August of this year.