Jacqui Lambie says more needs to be done ahead of royal commission into veteran suicide

Picture: Phillip Biggs
Picture: Phillip Biggs

With the preparation work underway ahead of the royal commission into veteran and defence suicides, Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie is calling for a focus on mental health support.

Senator Lambie said there wasn't enough support for veterans currently, and more will be seeking support during the process.

"We've only got two Level 4 advocates in the state at the moment, and their funding runs out at the end of June and they have no idea if they're going to get re-funded or not, it's just disgusting - it's nearly the end of April and they're sitting there basically in a holding cell," she said.

"When this royal commission comes up it's going to cause a lot of emotions and they've got nothing set up right now, nothing set up for people to ring through straight away, and Open Arms [a veteran support service] is absolutely under the pump.

"This is just the terms of reference, we haven't even got to it being released yet in full ... someone would have thought they'd started getting this in action before they'd even asked what was thought of the terms of reference.

"It's an absolute cluster and they should be ashamed of themselves."

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Senator Lambie said Tasmania was also lacking in a ward dedicated to veterans mental health, with those seeking support needing to travel interstate.

The Department of Veterans' Affairs and Department of Communities Tasmania have commissioned a feasibility study into a veteran wellbeing centre for the state.

A Department of Communities spokesperson said the study is expected to be finalised "in the coming months", and that they will work with the DVA to respond to findings and "determine the way forward".

"Findings from the study will inform future directions to help improve the wellbeing of Tasmanian veterans and their families, including the implementation of a wellbeing support model," the spokesperson said.

Senator Lambie said the establishment of a centre would be an example of a support system veterans sorely need in the lead up to and during the royal commission.

"It is vital they have access to mental health services," she said.

"There has been a great model sitting up there in Queensland since 2012, that model is working superbly, they're doing a great job - I don't know why you need to do another study down here, it's just a waste of time and a waste of money.

"They wonder why people are taking their own lives - they could have this hub up and going a long time ago."

If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support, phone Lifeline 13 11 14. Help is also available through Open Arms on 1800 011 046.

This story Jacqui Lambie calls for more mental health support first appeared on The Examiner.