Share your story
Sharing your story
To those affected by suicide, and on behalf of the Royal Commission, I make this promise: we will listen with empathy, we will act with compassion – and without fear or favour – and we will learn from your stories in order to make a real difference to the lives of serving and former personnel, and their families
Commissioner Nick Kaldas APM (Chair)
To understand the common themes, systemic issues and risk factors that contribute to suicide and suicide behaviours of serving and former Defence members, we invite you to share your story. It is important we hear from a range of people, including serving and former Defence members, their families, carers and advocates. Members of the public and organisations or institutions are also invited to make submissions.
If you believe you have experiences relevant to the Royal Commission, please share them with us.
There are a few different ways you can share your story with the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
If you are seeking urgent or crisis support please reach out to a crisis service.
Making a submission is a valuable way to share your story and contribute to the work of the Royal Commission. A small number of people who make submissions may be contacted to appear as a witness at a public hearing.
The Royal Commission cannot decide or resolve individual cases or award any form of compensation.
Support to share your story
Support is available to help you share your story. Our Counselling and Enquiry Support team of counsellors, social workers and psychologists are here to support you throughout.
An independent legal service has been established for people who want to engage with the Royal Commission.
A legal financial assistance scheme is available to some individuals engaging with the Royal Commission.
To find out more about the supports available see our Counselling & support page.
Make a submission
Making a submission is the best way to share your story with the Royal Commission. We encourage anyone with a lived experience that is relevant to the terms of reference of the Royal Commission to make a submission.
We are interested in hearing from people with a variety of lived experiences, whether currently serving in the Defence force, former members, or family members and support people. Your lived experience does not need to relate directly to suicide for you to make a submission. Your story could be about military service, trauma, mental health, family support and other personal experiences of the Defence force. Or your story might be about issues like claims, support services or rehabilitation after you left the Defence force.
Each submission adds to the body of evidence the Commissioners will use to inform their investigation. It is important that each individual story is told - even if your story is similar to a story of a witness. Every submission adds to the evidence of systemic and structural issues within the Defence forces.
Members of the public and organisations or institutions are also invited to make submissions to the Royal Commission until Friday, 13 October 2023.
Not every person who makes a submission will appear as a witness. This does not mean that your voice is not as important as people that appear as witnesses. Every submission is read, carefully reviewed and recorded, and will contribute to the work of the Royal Commission.
Submissions can be anonymous and may be made on a confidential basis. If we have consent from the author, and any person whose story is shared in the submission, the Royal Commission may publish it on its website over the life of the Commission.
If you share another person’s story, such as a family member, friend or colleague, we encourage you to seek their permission before doing so. The Commission will not publish submissions sharing the story of another living person without that person’s consent.
There is a legal advice service for people wishing to engage with the Royal Commission. Legal financial assistance is available to individuals and entities to assist with meeting the costs of legal representation and disbursements associated with engaging with the Royal Commission.
The Royal Commission recommends individuals or groups who plan to engage with the Royal Commission, who may be uncertain about the material or information they wish to provide, seek legal advice.
To make a submission online
For many people the quickest and easiest way to make a submission is online:
- use the online submission form
- you can attach supporting document and files (maximum 3 files, up to 25MB each)
- you can make multiple online submissions.
To make an audio or video submission:
There are two ways you can share your audio or video submission.
- For audio or video files smaller than 25MB each - you can attach them to your online submission as a supporting document.
- For audio or video files larger than 25MB - contact us and we can arrange for you to upload your files. Email DVSRC.email@example.com or call 1800 329 095 or +61 2 5122 3105
(between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm AEDT Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays).
If you would rather not contact the Royal Commission directly or would like to remain anonymous, you can contact the Defence and Veterans Legal Service on 1800 331 800 (Monday to Friday) or firstname.lastname@example.org and they can help you upload your files.
To make a submission by mail
If you are unable to complete our online submission form there are alternatives available:
- download the printable form [DOCX 90KB] and post or email it to the Royal Commission
- Contact the Royal Commission on 1800 329 095 (9:00 am to 5:00 pm AEDT Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays) or DVSRC.email@example.com to request a paper submission form be sent to you in the mail.
All printable forms should be mailed to GPO Box 3273, Sydney NSW 2001 or emailed to DVSRC.firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 13 October 2023.
Before making a submission, please note that the Royal Commission can't decide or resolve individual cases or award any form of compensation.
Private sessions are confidential meetings. These sessions are conducted in private with one or more of the Commissioners where you tell them about your personal experience.
You can request a private session if you are:
- a serving or former Defence member with lived experience of suicide behaviour or risk factors
- a family member of a serving or former Defence member who has died by suicide or experienced suicidal behaviour.
The information you share in a private session is confidential and helps to inform the work of the Commission. Any information you share with the Commissioners would only ever be included in a Commission report if it was deidentified.
If you would like to learn more about private session you can read our A guide to your private session factsheet.
If you'd like to share your story, you can also make a submission.
Contact us with any questions about private sessions.
Contribute in other ways
If you're interested in the Royal Commission, there are other ways you can get involved:
- email us to give feedback
- We have a stakeholder resource kit available to help you share information about the Royal Commission with your networks – get in touch if you would like to access this.
- watch our public hearings on the livestream on our website
- attend a public hearing in your city or town
- follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Protections for people engaging with the Royal Commission
Under the Royal Commission Act there are protections available to people wishing to engage with a Royal Commission under its coercive powers.