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Part 2—National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention

Part 2 National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention

Division 1 Introduction

9   Simplified outline of this Part

The National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention is established.

The main functions of the Commissioner include:

       (a)     inquiring into the circumstances of defence and veteran deaths by suicide; and

      (b)     to make findings and recommendations following such inquiries; and

       (c)     to promote understanding of suicide risks for defence members and veterans and improving the wellbeing of defence members and veterans.

The Commissioner should take into account general principles in performing the Commissioner’s functions.

The Commissioner is assisted by APS employees in the Department who are made available by the Secretary.

Division 2 Establishment, functions and powers

10   National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention

                   There is to be a National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.

11   Functions

             (1)  The Commissioner has the following functions:

                     (a)  to inquire into the circumstances of defence and veteran deaths by suicide (see section 26) (the inquiry function );

                     (b)  to make findings and recommendations following such inquiries, including:

                              (i)  recommendations in relation to the wellbeing of defence members and veterans and defence and veteran suicide prevention strategies; and

                             (ii)  recommendations in relation to any policy, legislative, administrative or structural reforms;

                     (c)  to review action taken in response to any findings or recommendations made by the Commissioner;

                     (d)  to work collaboratively with State or Territory Coroners to understand issues contributing to defence and veteran deaths by suicide;

                     (e)  to maintain a record of defence and veteran deaths by suicide notified to the Commissioner;

                      (f)  to promote understanding of suicide risks for defence members and veterans and factors that can improve the wellbeing of defence members and veterans;

                     (g)  to consider any matter related to the above functions referred to the National Commissioner by the Prime Minister or the Minister;

                     (h)  to do anything incidental or conducive to the performance of any of the above functions.

             (2)  To avoid doubt, the following are not functions of the Commissioner:

                     (a)  to make findings of civil or criminal wrongdoing;

                     (b)  to make findings on the cause of death in relation to a defence and veteran death by suicide.

             (3)  In performing the Commissioner’s functions, the Commissioner must have regard to the need to avoid prejudicing current or future criminal or civil proceedings or other contemporaneous inquiries.

Note:          An example of a contemporaneous inquiry is a contemporaneous inquiry conducted by the Inspector-General ADF under section 110C of the Defence Act 1903 .

             (4)  The Commissioner has power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of the Commissioner’s functions.

12   General principles for the performance of the Commissioner’s functions

             (1)  This section sets out the principles that should be taken into account in the performance or exercise of the Commissioner’s functions or powers.

             (2)  The Commissioner should take a trauma-informed and restorative approach.

             (3)  The Commissioner should:

                     (a)  recognise that families and others affected by defence and veteran deaths by suicide have a unique contribution to make to the Commissioner’s functions; and

                     (b)  recognise that those families and other affected persons may wish to be consulted.

13   Application of finance law

                   For the purposes of the finance law (within the meaning of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 ), the Commissioner is an official of the Department.

14   Arrangements relating to staff of the Department

                   The staff assisting the Commissioner are to be:

                     (a)  APS employees in the Department; or

                     (b)  persons engaged by, or on behalf of, the Commonwealth as contractors to perform functions or duties;

whose services are made available to the Commissioner, by the Secretary, in connection with the performance of any of the Commissioner’s functions.

15   Delegation by Commissioner

             (1)  The Commissioner may, in writing, delegate all or any of the Commissioner’s functions or powers under section 32 (Commissioner may require information etc.) or 53 (non-publication direction) to a person who is:

                     (a)  an SES employee in the Department; and

                     (b)  a member of the staff assisting the Commissioner as mentioned in section 14.

Note 1:       The expression SES employee is defined in section 2B of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 .

Note 2:       Sections 34AA to 34A of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 contain provisions relating to delegations.

             (2)  In performing a delegated function or exercising a delegated power, the delegate must comply with any written directions of the Commissioner.

Division 3 Terms and conditions etc.

16   Appointment

             (1)  The Commissioner is to be appointed by the Governor-General by written instrument.

Note:          The Commissioner may be reappointed: see section 33AA of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 .

             (2)  A person must not be appointed as the Commissioner unless the person is, in the Governor-General’s opinion, suitable for appointment because of the person’s qualifications, training or experience.

17   General terms and conditions of appointment

             (1)  The Commissioner holds office for the period specified in the instrument of appointment. The period must not exceed 5 years.

             (2)  The Commissioner holds office on a full-time basis.

             (3)  The Commissioner holds office on the terms and conditions (if any), in relation to matters not covered by this Act, that are determined by the Governor-General.

18   Remuneration

             (1)  The Commissioner is to be paid the remuneration that is determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. If no determination of that remuneration by the Tribunal is in operation, the Commissioner is to be paid the remuneration that is prescribed by the rules.

             (2)  The Commissioner is to be paid the allowances that are prescribed by the rules.

             (3)  This section has effect subject to the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 .

19   Leave of absence

             (1)  The Commissioner has the recreation leave entitlements that are determined by the Remuneration Tribunal.

             (2)  The Minister may grant the Commissioner leave of absence, other than recreation leave, on the terms and conditions as to remuneration or otherwise that the Minister determines.

20   Other paid work

                   The Commissioner must not engage in paid work outside the duties of the Commissioner’s office without the Minister’s approval.

21   Resignation

             (1)  The Commissioner may resign the Commissioner’s appointment by giving the Governor-General a written resignation.

             (2)  The resignation takes effect on the day it is received by the Governor-General or, if a later day is specified in the resignation, on that later day.

22   Termination of appointment

             (1)  The Governor-General may terminate the appointment of the Commissioner:

                     (a)  for misbehaviour; or

                     (b)  if the Commissioner is unable to perform the duties of the Commissioner’s office because of physical or mental incapacity.

             (2)  The Governor-General must terminate the appointment of the Commissioner if:

                     (a)  the Commissioner:

                              (i)  becomes bankrupt; or

                             (ii)  applies to take the benefit of any law for the relief of bankrupt or insolvent debtors; or

                            (iii)  compounds with the Commissioner’s creditors; or

                            (iv)  makes an assignment of the Commissioner’s remuneration for the benefit of the Commissioner’s creditors; or

                     (b)  the Commissioner is absent, except on leave of absence, for 14 consecutive days or for 28 days in any 12 months; or

                     (c)  the Commissioner engages, except with the Minister’s approval, in paid work outside the duties of the Commissioner’s office (see section 20);

                     (d)  the Commissioner fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with section 23.

23   Disclosure of interests

             (1)  A disclosure by the Commissioner under section 29 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (which deals with the duty to disclose interests) must be made to the Minister.

             (2)  Subsection (1) applies in addition to any rules made for the purposes of that section.

             (3)  For the purposes of this Act and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 , the Commissioner is taken not to have complied with section 29 of that Act if the Commissioner does not comply with subsection (1) of this section.

24   Acting appointments

                   The Minister may, by written instrument, appoint a person to act as the Commissioner:

                     (a)  during a vacancy in the office of the Commissioner (whether or not an appointment has previously been made to the office); or

                     (b)  during any period, or during all periods, when the Commissioner:

                              (i)  is absent from duty or from Australia; or

                             (ii)  is, for any reason, unable to perform the duties of the office.

Note:          For rules that apply to acting appointments, see sections 33AB and 33A of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 .