Australian PM announces inquiry after public outrage over rising military suicides

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that a Royal Commission will be established to investigate the rising number of suicides among military personnel, after public outrage pressured the government to act.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Morrison unveiled the plan to establish the independent inquiry into the number of current and former military personnel committing suicide, after government figures showed more than 500 had taken their own life since 2001.

“I hope it will be a process by which veterans and families can find some comfort, but it obviously can’t replace the loss,” the Australian leader said.

I think and I hope it will be a healing process.

Public pressure has been mounting on the government to take action, after Julie-Ann Finney, the mother of a soldier who committed suicide following his return from deployment, launched a campaign calling for improvements to the support troops receive.

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Following the prime minister’s announcement, Finney cautiously welcomed the move as a “first step,” but insisted the inquiry had to lead to real change. This was reiterated by a retired special forces soldier, Heston Russell, who urged those running the commission to speak to veterans to truly understand the nature of the problem.

The Royal Commission is expected to start later in 2021, with a report and recommendations produced for the government within two years. To ensure that changes are enacted, the government will separately appoint a national commissioner to oversee their implementation.

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