Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, has welcomed the interim report of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide as a vital step towards addressing the serious systemic and cultural problems that exist within the Australian Defence Force and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
“Shining a light into the darkest recesses of the ADF was never going to be an easy exercise, particularly for those sharing their terribly painful experiences with the wider community,” Mr Wilkie said. “But unless we listen, and indeed act to address these injustices, we are never going to be able to tackle the systemic and cultural problems within the ADF and Veterans’ Affairs.
“We owe it to all those who have served our country, and indeed their families, to ensure they are adequately supported and indeed legally protected when telling their stories. The outrageous backlog of DVA claims, for instance, must be fixed immediately.
“As a veteran of 20 years’ service, I was dismayed by the Albanese Government’s recent decision to move the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio to the outer ministry. It should be within Cabinet to properly reflect its importance, particularly given this ongoing inquiry.
“This is a once-in-a-generation chance to make lasting change, so it’s beyond time the Government stands up, commits to implementing all the Royal Commission’s recommendations and provides our serving and ex-serving personnel with the respect and support they deserve.”