#Defence Lives Matter
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# Defence Lives Matter represents an independent call for a Senate Inquiry into suicide risk and professional employment failures impacting serving, reserves, and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.
Your support is urgently needed to help raise awareness about this issue that is rarely talked about in Australian society. We are hoping that with enough signatures on this petition, it will further give weight to the issue of suicide risk among serving ADF personnel, and support to Senator Jacqui Lambie's current call for a Veteran's Royal Commission.
Reforms are Needed
Organisational reforms are urgently needed to ensure the ADF offers genuine mediation to resolve complaints, long before these escalate to cause suicide risk, and to ensure serving, reserves and ex-serving ADF personnel have legitimate access to procedural fairness in a non-discriminatory 'investigation' and 'hearing' of complaints, which is currently missing. Currently, Ministers and others (Ombudsman, Australian Human Rights Commission, IGADF etc...) consistently default to the pre-adopted position of Defence. In many cases, the victimisation of serving ADF personnel is overlooked, disregarded and even admonished when complaints are pushed beyond the Chain of Command to the Ministerial level.
Why a Senate Inquiry?
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among serving ADF personnel and the leading cause of death among reserves and ex-serving ADF personnel. Between 2002 and 2015, there were close to 2,000 deaths of men and women with at least 1 day of ADF service. At face value, this is about double the rate of deaths of Indigenous people over the same period, which were likely caused by institutional issues.
In 2018-19, the Inspector General of the ADF independently finalised 48 inquiries into deaths in service, of which 19 were suicide related. The IGADF report confirmed a connection between suicide risk and complaints relating to Professional Employment Failures. In other words, Management Initiated Early Retirements, Redress of Grievances complaints, or detriments caused by Defective Administration have the greatest potential to expose serving, reserves and ex-serving ADF personnel to suicide risk, self-harm or to cause them to want to harm others.
1. Independently investigate the high prevalence of suicide among serving, reserves and ex-serving ADF personnel, and to make those findings public.
2. Provide serving, reserves and ex-serving ADF personnel equal access to services (legal counsel) that the ADF utilises against them, and in so doing, mitigate the current unfair legal advantage that the ADF has over serving, reserves, and ex-serving ADF personnel seeking a fair resolution of their complaint.
3. Consider amending the current Defence (Inquiry) Regulations 2018 to put in place mandatory legal training for all Defence Inquiry Officers, and to ensure that witnesses are obliged to give evidence under oath or affirmation, and that anyone who gives misleading or false information be subjected to subsequent Defence Force Discipline Act penalties, and/or civil/criminal proceedings and not protected under legal privilege, as is currently the case.
4. Protect the integrity of each complaint by ensuring the accuracy of information and quality of advice provided by the ADF to Ministers and others. Currently, Ministers and others (Ombudsman, Australian Human Rights Commission, IGADF etc...) consistently default to the pre-adopted position of Defence.
Create an independent legal & advocacy service that offers genuine workplace mediation services to establish early interventions in addressing professional employment failures, and in so doing, mitigate the risk of suicide and self-harm to serving, reserve, and ex-serving ADF personnel.
Kerry Danes is a Veteran of the Australian Defence Force with 42 years military service, predominately with the Australian Special Forces. He is one of a growing number of ADF Veterans who is deeply concerned with the confirmed connection between suicide risk and complaints relating to professional employment failures.
"The mistreatment of serving ADF personnel must stop!" - Kerry Danes, CSM (ADF Veteran)
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