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Premier’s Message – February 2020

On Wednesday 5 February, the Morrison Government announced the establishment of a permanent National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.

I have been informed that the powerful, new independent body will be created to investigate all suspected veterans and Australian Defence Force (ADF) suicides and causes to help save lives.  

The Prime Minister confirmed, that although it is not a royal commission, the Independent Commissioner will have similar powers and will have the ability to investigate individual cases alongside state and territory coroners.

The National Commissioner will have the power and resources to investigate suicides and related issues as they arise, and as confirmed by the Morrison Government, the National Commissioner will be empowered to deliver two roles:

  • The Commissioner will be an independent and permanent public accountability body, with the same powers of a Royal Commission to compel the production of evidence and summon witnesses and make findings and recommendations to Government.
  • The Commissioner will also provide an ongoing investigative function of individual cases of suicide, working with each state and territory coronial office, making recommendations to Government.

For further information about the establishment of the National Commissioner, please find a link to the transcript about the announcement:

Furthermore, earlier this week, on Tuesday 4 February I had the pleasure of hosting the 2020 Veterans Advisory Council Reception.  Attended by past and present members of the Veterans Advisory Council, it was an opportunity to farewell outgoing members of the Council and welcome new members. 

The Veterans’ Advisory Council (VAC) plays a key role in communicating the views of the veteran community directly to the State Government and I am very encouraged by the level of engagement, often across organisational divides, to ensure the voice of the South Australian veteran community is heard.

During 2020 the VAC will continue to focus on matters of concern to the veteran community.  These will include the Commonwealth’s response to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into the rehabilitation and compensation of veterans, the development of the $5m Veterans Wellbeing Centre as part of the reactivation of the Repat Hospital site, transition and employment programs and the development of a veteran mental health and wellbeing strategy and national action plan to name just a few.

During the Reception, I had the pleasure of acknowledging the hard work of the outgoing Chair, Brigadier Laurie Lewis, AM.  Laurie has been a member of the VAC since its inception and Chair for the past two years. Laurie and his wonderful wife, Di, are both highly respected members of our community and I will continue to seek out their advice and guidance in the years to come.

To the VAC’s departing members, Commander Andrew Burnett ADC RAN, Lieutenant Colonel John Holloway, Helen Meyer, Ms Karen May and Mr Leon Eddy OAM – thank you so very much for your contribution.

To the VAC’s new members, Commander Alastair Cooper, Commanding Officer, Navy Head Quarters, Lieutenant Colonel Adam Gower, Commanding Officer 7RAR, Mr Nathan Klinge, CEO RSL Care, Mrs Jan Milham, State President War Widows Guild of Australia and Ms Jo-Anne Hanrahan, welcome to the Council, and I look forward to working with you and the contribution you will make to the Veteran Community over the next 12 months.

On behalf of all South Australians, thank you for your service.

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