DEFENCE LIVES MATTER
Update 23 Nov 2023 - IGADF Twenty Year Review
On 21 November 2023, I took the opportunity to submit my insights and recommendations to the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) Twenty Year Review. This important review presents a significant opportunity to advocate for much-needed reforms in the ADF workplace. As someone deeply invested in the well-being and success of our ADF members, I have passionately highlighted the pressing need to safeguard their professional status and reputation, as well as their mental health.
In my submission, I have put forth a comprehensive set of recommendations aimed at addressing the existing challenges and concerns faced by ADF members and veterans [and their families].
One of the key issues I have addressed is the inherent flaws in the current system of arbitration that is applied to ADF grievances. It is widely acknowledged that this system not only fails to effectively resolve grievances but also exacerbates the situation by generating even more grievances. This vicious cycle not only affects the mental health and well-being of ADF members but also has the potential to impact their families who provide them with unwavering support. By shedding light on these critical issues, I hope to ignite a meaningful conversation and spark the necessary changes in the ADF workplace. It is essential that we establish a fair and effective mechanism for addressing grievances that not only provides resolution but also promotes mental well-being and fosters a supportive environment for our ADF members and veterans. Only through such reforms can we truly honor their dedication and service.
"Often overlooked is the fact that many ADF members have been subjected to significant professional employment failures during service that has caused them irrevocable reputational harm. The risk of suicide and self harm is not just a consequence of war. It is now commonly accepted that there is a link between institutional abuse and abnormal suicide risk among serving members."
Kay earned her PhD with the School of Law and Justice at Southern Cross University, and has a Masters in Human Rights, with High Distinctions, at Curtin University.
Update 19 April 2021: The Government has agreed on both a Royal Commission and a permanent framework under the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.
‘Deep concerns’ Royal Commission will not do enough
July 9, 2021
Adjunct Lecturer and Humanitarian Dr Kay Danes says while she is glad about the announcement of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, she has “deep concerns” not enough will be done to fix the system in place.
“Whilst a lot of issues will be discovered through the Royal Commission, I also harbour some very deep concerns that not enough will be done to focus in on the defence and the current policies,” Dr Danes told Sky News host Catherine McGregor.
She says there are “a lot of good people” in defence who “have given exceptional service for a long period of time”.
“A lot of those do not deserve the ill-treatment that’s been meted out to them by simply raising a complaint.
“I’ve seen officers … reach a breaking point where they simply cannot obtain justice and they end their life.”
Dr Kay Danes, OAM PhD (Law & Justice), MHumRights.
As a doctoral researcher, I would have been delighted with a Royal Commission. However, I am not convinced this is the only way forward to address the multitude of issues currently impacting Defence and Veterans. Those who disagree are free to argue the merits of a Royal Commission at their pleasure. But, those deliberations should not delay processes that could move the narrative forward. I firmly believe that we cannot afford to wait for a change of Government as some have proposed, especially since the next Federal Election is not until 2022. Moreover, there is no guarantee there will even be a change of Government. We need not be entirely dependent on a Royal Commission to effect much-needed change in the Defence and Veteran space. When presented with a united front and compelling evidence-based argument, there is always the potential for change. The great Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Rosa Parks taught us that. Or, if we want to look to a more recent example, the Veterans community stood united. It prevented the stripping of the Meritorious Unit Citation from ADF members who had served with distinction in Afghanistan. This was significant to the Veterans community, who achieved this in a very short space of time—their will to see justice prevail. Therefore, no one has the moral right to delay any intervention that may save the life of a single ADF member or Veteran today.
The time to act is NOW—, or we risk losing more lives to Defence and Veteran Suicide!
Click on Image to read about policy reforms that will help ADF commanders improve current best practice within the ADF, and maintain good relations in the ranks, by dealing with workplace complaints at an early stage, and through genuine mediation.
A range of different resources BELOW relating to the
Australian Defence and Veteran Community
Click to read
Defend ADF members in their Workplace
Afghan aid workers’ fate is now ‘on the line’ amid rejection of visa applications (Jul 7, 2021) Interview with Alan Jones
Towards a fairer, more just and mentally robust workplace...
Journalist Tom Ravlic interview
"Do defenders of our rights and freedoms have any themselves within the Defense 'ecosystem'?"
Defense Force hierarchy are 'ganging up' on soldiers with inquiries like Brereton
Stuart McCarthy explains the need for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the ADF mefloquine and tafenoquine
Defence and Veteran Symposium Speakers
Canberra April 2021
Life On the Line:
Major (Retd) Glenn Kolomeitz
Veteran Royal Commission ‘inherently more flexible' than National Commission with Major (Retd) Glenn Kolomeitz
Stand tall for ADF PTS Reforms
January 05, 2021
Defence veterans have launched yet another campaign seeking justice in dealings with the Dept of Defence. You would think, for the number of times that political heavies wrap themselves in the flag alongside men and women in uniform, that our serving personnel would be very well treated by the federal government. No so, say the vets, as the wife, Dr Kay Danes, of a four-decade soldier, Kerry, explains. Click to read story:
Ben Robert Smith shares valuable insights relating to suicide in the ADF
When a different person comes home.
Defence top brass and government are ‘the biggest coverup merchants’
Danniell Martin story...
Veteran suicide rate is 'disgraceful'
Consultation & Data Terms Of Reference into Defence and Veteran Suicide
Julian Hill, MP speaks to Veteran Suicide
Luke John Gosling, MP speaks to Veteran Suicide
DVA Minister on Royal Commission
Justin Huggett, MG
Future officers need to ‘correct’ the direction the military is heading: Army Vet Justin Huggett.
“You can either have a military that is a “direct reflection” of your society or you can have a military that “fights and wins – you cannot have both”. Click here
Dr Kerry Summerscales, CSM
Most definitely there needs to be a royal commission. There needs to be multiple means of inquiry into why veteran suicide is more than double that of the general population. We need to establish why and how we can prevent that, and what changes can be made. The National Commissioner has the capacity to go back a year later and say “Did you do the recommendations? No? Why not?” And if yes, “Well have the outcomes changed? No? Then clearly the recommendations were flawed, so let’s go again”,’ she said.
‘I would be over the moon if they did both.’ Link to News Release
Shayne Neumann MP
"We are failing our veterans and we urgently need a royal commission into this terrible scourge. This latest update is a wake-up call and shows we are losing the war when it comes to saving our current and former defence personnel."
The Shadow Minister for Veteran’s Affairs & Defence Personnel Shayne Neumann MP is among those in the Veterans community who are concerned that an interim National Commissioner undertaking an in-house review will not have all the powers of a Royal Commission, as the Government is claiming. Appointment of Interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention. News Release
Senator Jim Molan 23 March 2021
Today I asked a question in Senate Estimates about the National Commissioner. This confirmed my view that the National Commissioner will be independent and have the same powers as a Royal Commission. Like a Royal Commission, the National Commissioner can make findings or recommendations, including identifying any policy, legislative, administrative or structure reforms that may be required. However, unlike a Royal Commission, which issues a final report then is disbanded, the National Commissioner has an ongoing role in monitoring the implementation of its recommendations. Under the legislation, the Commissioner also has a direct line to the Prime Minister and Attorney-General, if it considers that any Government Department or Agency is not taking appropriate action in response to a Commissioner’s report. Defence Force and veteran suicide is, sadly, an ongoing issue. We need a permanent framework and action to address it, not a once-off Royal Commission and recommendations. Click to View
If this has raised any concerns for you, please contact Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling for counselling or support services on 1800 011 046.
Enough inquiries that go nowhere – it’s time for a royal commission into veteran suicide.
August 6, 2019
Between 2001 and 2016, 373 Australian veterans took their lives, according to a study commissioned by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). The study noted that male veterans under the age of 30 had a suicide rate more than two times the national average for men the same age. Click here....
Associate Professor, School of Education, Flinders University
Military analyst, Griffith University
Dr Dan Mealey
When ADF members receive no judicious and scrupulous redress of their grievances in the moment that they happen (including abuse, rape, vexatious reporting and misappropriated power), this has catastrophic consequences down the production line, through their transition out of the ADF, into civvie street where the opinion formed of them is that they weren't resilient enough for the job. Suicide at this point is clearly a predictable outcome, and clearly preventing those suicides demands scrutiny up the production line to the organisation where those suicides are manufactured. (Read Dan's article on Medium)