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Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Page: 14674

Mr PERRETT (MoretonOpposition Whip) (17:31): On behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, I present the committee's report of the inquiry into transition from the Australian Defence Force.

Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).

Mr PERRETT: by leave—This inquiry had its genesis in the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee's report on its inquiry into suicide by veterans and ex-service personnel. That inquiry found concerns were still being raised about the model through which mental health care is provided. Years ago the repatriation hospitals provided veterans' health services in an environment that well understood and was responsive to veterans' needs. Whilst it is not practicable to re-establish that system, this report recommends the establishment of networked centres of treatment excellence for veterans' mental health. These centres would support the development of the body of knowledge and new therapies in veterans' mental health, provide a means to increase the number of appropriately trained mental health practitioners and provide veterans with the assurance that the treatment offered was focused on their needs.

It is important to note that the overwhelming majority of ADF members who transition to civilian life do so relatively smoothly and without major difficulty. However, for a small proportion, transition can be a difficult and potentially dangerous time. Those whose transition is involuntary and on medical grounds, and those whose experience of trauma while in the ADF is exacerbated by stress experienced during transition, are most at risk. To address this, the committee has recommended assigning clear responsibility for transition to Defence and providing for a professional case management approach to support the transition process. The report also supports the simplification of the legislative framework for veterans' support with the objective, over time, of transitioning to a single act.

It is also important to recognise that those people close to transitioning ADF members may be on that journey with them and are often also the first line of support. For this reason the committee supports making transition training and support services more comprehensive, more broadly available to the families of transitioning ADF members and providing access to these services for a longer period beyond the ADF member's formal separation.

The committee recognises that the experience of women veterans transitioning to civilian life may be different from men. However, there is not much information available to inform the provision of specific services for women veterans and the committee has recommended that a study be undertaken into the issues experienced by women veterans and their families.

Finally, I'd like to record the committee's appreciation to all those who made written submissions to the inquiry or who gave oral evidence at public hearings, which were sometimes quite testing. I would also like to recognise the work of all the people in the ESO sector who are working to assist veterans in so many different ways. And I thank the secretariat and the rest of the committee.