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Statement from Commissioners Nick Kaldas APM, Dr Peggy Brown AO and James Douglas KC

The Royal Commission's focus on hearing from people with lived experience of suicide or suicidality in the military will be greatly supported by the introduction of a new bill to Federal Parliament on 7 September 2023.

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide received more than 1000 eligible applications for private sessions prior to the closing date on 28 April 2023. Commissioners have already conducted 535 sessions with people who have lived experience of suicide and suicidality in the Australian Defence Force.

There are some 400 sessions still to be undertaken between now and June 2024, when the Royal Commission’s final report is due to be handed to Government.

Current laws mean only a Royal Commissioner can conduct a confidential one-on-one meeting with a person with lived experience.

"We Commissioners are undertaking as many sessions as possible, both in person and virtually; however, to get through the large number of outstanding private sessions in the time we have left, we must appoint an Assistant Commissioner to help us," Commissioner Kaldas said.

The new legislation will allow for the appointment of an Assistant Commissioner with the appropriate skills, experience and gravitas required to undertake private sessions alongside the three existing Commissioners over the next nine months.

"We know how important these sessions are to veterans and their families, and the catharsis and validation they bring to so many people impacted by suicide and suicidality.

"We want to continue to give them the time and attention they deserve and the addition of an Assistant Commissioner will ensure that."

"We thank the Defence and veteran community for their ongoing support of the Royal Commission’s inquiry, as we work towards delivering our final report," he said.

For more information on the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide visit the website or for support contact 1800 329 095.