Australia To Hold Inquiry Into Military Suicides
•》More than 500 Australian veterans have died from suicide since 2001 – a statistic that has fuelled public anger.
•》Members of Australia Task Group attend a training session conducted by coalition forces for Nineveh police forces at Taji military base north of Baghdad, Iraq, on February 13, 2017
•》Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a Royal Commission to examine suicides among serving and former military personnel, bowing to public pressure as the toll mounts among veterans.
•》Speaking to reporters in Canberra on Monday, Morrison said he hoped the inquiry would prove a “healing process” for grieving families.
•》“I hope it will be a process by which veterans and families can find some comfort, but it obviously can’t replace the loss,” he said.
•》Australian troops have been involved in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and deployed for humanitarian missions in the Pacific.
•》According to government data, more than 500 Australian veterans have died from suicide since 2001 – a statistic that has fuelled public anger, including among the prime minister’s own Liberal Party.
•》By comparison, 41 Australian troops died during the 20-year conflict in Afghanistan.
•》The issue became prominent in Australia following a high-profile campaign by Julie-Ann Finney, whose son David, a former naval petty officer, committed suicide in 2019 after he had earlier been deployed to Iraq, East Timor and Bougainville.
•》He was medically discharged in 2017, after suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the ABC broadcaster.
•》Morrison last year said his government would appoint a permanent national commissioner to investigate suicides among current and former military personnel amid rising public anger over the issue.
•》The scheme, however, was marred by delays – prompting a bipartisan support from Australia’s Senate for the Royal Commission earlier this year.
•》Tweaking his plans, Morrison said Australia will now hold a Royal Commission to examine any systemic issues among suicides by veterans, while the permanent national commissioner will be tasked with ensuring the recommendations are enforced.
•》Morrison last week said Australia will withdraw its remaining 80 military personnel in Afghanistan after the United States announced it would pull out from the country to end its longest war.
•》The deployment to Afghanistan is part of more than 3,000 Australian troops deployed around the world.