Nick Kaldas to lead Royal Commission into defence and veteran suicides

Prime Minister Scott Morrison officially launched a royal commission into veteran and defence personnel suicides on Thursday, as he announced a former top NSW cop would lead the inquiry.

The royal commission will examine systemic issues and common themes related to defence and veteran suicides, headed by former Deputy Commissioner of the NSW Police Force Nick Kaldas.

“The death of any Australian Defence Force member or veteran is a tragedy that is deeply felt by all Australians,” Scott Morrison said.

“As a government, we are committed to addressing the ongoing impact of service, including preventing future deaths by suicide and providing opportunities for healing.”

The commission will investigate issues that occur during service, transition out of service and life post-service.

From 2001 to 2017, one Australian veteran died by suicide every two weeks, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

More Australian veterans died by suicide than were killed on active duty since the ADF was deployed to Afghanistan in 2001.

The royal commission will be able to inquire into any previous death by suicide, and suspected suicides.

Mr Morrison assured veterans and their families that the royal commission would conduct its inquiries in a “trauma-informed way”.

Financial, legal, counselling and other support services will also be made available to those engaging with the Royal Commission.

“The Royal Commission will be informed by the individual experience of defence members, veterans and their families and support networks,” Mr Morrison said.

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide is due to provide an interim report on the 11 August 2022 and a final report on 15 June 2023.

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