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Serving, ex-serving ADF members and their families share stories in private sessions

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide is continuing to learn from the deeply personal experiences of current and former serving ADF members, their families and friends through private sessions.

More than 1140 requests for private sessions were received by the Royal Commission prior to the 28 April 2023 closing date.

Commissioners have so far completed more than 470 one-on-one sessions with people with lived experience of suicide and suicidality, including 63 in Perth, which have helped identify common issues, themes, risk and protective factors.

Hundreds more sessions will be held throughout 2023 and into early 2024.

Commissioner Peggy Brown said that sitting down with current and former ADF members, their loved ones and mates had been incredibly powerful.

“In opening up about their experience of life in the military, many serving and ex-serving members have revealed harrowing incidents of abuse, bullying, discrimination, harassment and hazing, as well as the additional trauma caused by the organisation failing to acknowledge what they’ve been through. This has been alarming,” Commissioner Brown said.

“Then there’s the fight for entitlements which has made life difficult for far too many serving and ex-serving members – and, indeed, cost lives.”

The Royal Commission continues to encourage interested individuals and organisations to provide any information that might be relevant to its inquiries prior to the closing date for submissions on 13 October this year.

“Strong legal protections are in place to ensure anyone – but particularly serving and ex-serving members – can come forward and share their story safely, confidentially and without fear of reprisals. They can also remain anonymous,” she said.