Royal Commission Hobart hearing to examine role of ex-service organisations
During his opening address at the Wrest Point Hotel in Hobart, Senior Counsel Assisting, Kevin Connor SC, said Tasmania's 17,500 veterans accounted for 3 percent of the state's population.
"The Tasmanian veteran community is quite diversely located … and often in regional locations," Mr Connor said. "About half of Tasmanian veterans live in the north and north west of Tasmania, but there are fewer support services there for veterans and their families."
During its seven-day hearing, the Commission will examine how well ex-service organisations collaborate and co-ordinate to provide support.
Other themes will include recruitment and retention of ADF members, PTSD, suicide prevention and support for families.
Tasmanian Veterans' Affairs Minister, the Hon. Guy Barnett MP, will give evidence on the first day of the hearing. Several witnesses with lived experience – including Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie – are also expected to appear.
The Commission is sitting in Hobart during National Homelessness Week. Mr Connor said veterans had a higher rate of homelessness than the non-veteran population.
In his opening address, Commission Chair Nick Kaldas thanked everyone who had contributed to the Royal Commission, by making a submission, giving evidence, or providing feedback and advice through community engagement.
"Your contributions have been extremely valuable in helping the Commission to identify systemic problems and solutions to reduce suicide and suicidality among current and ex-serving ADF members," he said.
"We Commissioners are more determined than ever to ensure this important work culminates in lasting change so that those who serve our country go on to live long and meaningful lives."
Commissioner Kaldas encouraged anyone with lived experience of the challenges of military life to come forward and make a submission.
The Royal Commission has received more than 1,900 submissions and held more than 160 private sessions. It will hand down its interim report on 11 August.