Commission resumes in Hobart

August 8, 2022 9:01 pm in by


AAP image/Andrew Corke

A woman whose husband took his own life after a decade serving in the air force will give evidence at the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide about the lack of mental health support during his career.

Madonna Paul will speak at the inquiry’s Hobart hearings on Monday, as the commission prepares to deliver its interim report to the governor-general on Thursday.

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“(She will) give evidence of the events leading to Mr Paul’s death, including the lack of mental health support he received during his air force career,” counsel assisting, Kevin Connor SC, told the inquiry last week.

“(As well as) the difficulties and delays he then experienced … with his claims to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs when he transitioned from the air force, and the difficulties Ms Paul and her family faced in her claims.”

Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie on Friday detailed “ten years of hell” following her medical discharge from the army in 2000 after she suffered a back injury during infantry training.

She battled for years for access to compensation, and said she was spied on by the department at her home with a camera put “over the back fence” in a bid to disprove her claims.

The commission’s interim report will include urgent recommendations, ahead of a final report due by June 2024.

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Senator Lambie believes priority should be given to addressing veterans’ claims swiftly.

Federal opposition defence spokesman Andrew Hastie spoke on Sunday about destigmatising mental health issues.

“I met with the parents of a young digger who took his life this year and they said to me that resilience is something we need to look at,” he told ABC TV.

“There are a lot of young Australians who are more connected than ever on social media through their phones but who are quite isolated. That is another thing we need to look at.”

The Hobart hearing block, which concludes on Wednesday, will also hear from National Mental Health Commissioner Alan Woodward.

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