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Veterans suicide prevention strategy further enhanced.

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Minister for Veterans' Affairs Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence

Monday 10 September 2007 VA143


A new suicide prevention initiative to increase awareness of mental health and provide support services to the veteran community, Operation Life, was launched today by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Bruce Billson.

In launching the program on World Suicide Prevention Day, Mr Billson said the Australian Government has allocated over $2.3 million for Operation Life to help with this complex, critical issue facing the wider veteran and service personnel communities.

"Operation Life includes a suite of programs and workshops, awareness raising initiatives and research. It offers support, not only to our veterans, but to their families and carers, and builds on the existing ProgramASIST, which focuses on providing suicide awareness training for volunteers," Mr Billson said.

"There is no quick fix for suicide, as everyone’s emotional, social, and lifestyle issues are different, but one veteran suicide is one too many.

"Operation Life is about preserving, promoting and protecting life, and educating the veteran community about mental health issues. It further builds on my Department’s comprehensive mental health support strategy."

"We owe it to our veterans, who have served our country to provide them with the support they need to live the quality and length of life that they so richly deserve," he said.

At today’s launch Mr Billson also presented awards to Presidents of ex-service organisations in appreciation of their role in educating the community of the issues surrounding suicide and suicide prevention.

"Mental health is a priority for the Australian Government, and my Department will continue to develop and enhance programs that raise awareness of mental health and provide support services to our veteran community," Mr Billson said.

Operation Life is a joint initiative by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs with the Department of Health and Ageing and the Australian Defence Force. It has been endorsed by the National Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum.

Media inquiries: Cameron Hill 0408 239 521