With the State election just four weeks away, RSL Victoria is calling on both sides of government to commit to making greater mental health services and support available to Victorian veterans.
The RSL is advocating for the creation of a state-wide acute mental health facility that can support veterans experiencing serious trauma-related mental ill health and suicidal ideation.
State President of RSL Victoria, Dr Robert Webster OAM said, “The situation for Victorian veterans is critical. Veterans have a heightened risk of experiencing trauma-related mental ill health and suicidal ideation.”
“In Victoria, Veterans in crisis are required to wait weeks, sometimes months, before they can access sub-acute specialist care. In addition, specialised acute care for veterans is currently not available in Victoria, meaning that the most vulnerable veterans are left with limited care options.”
Dr Webster went on to say, “There are 65 recommendations in the final report from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. However, there is a lack of specificity around support for veterans, which needs to be urgently addressed.”
Dr Webster added that evidence given at the Royal Commission into Veteran and Defence Suicide highlights this unacceptable situation.
“The Royal Commissioners are being told that the lack of access to mental health services compounds the veteran mental health crisis leading to an unacceptably high suicide rate. As the state election looms, Victorian politicians have an opportunity to improve outcomes for our veterans by committing to increasing mental health support to veterans.” Dr Webster said.
Veterans struggling with suicidal ideation and experiencing a mental health crisis require a specialist veteran-centric location they can access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is the RSL's view that this must be an acute care facility that can help veterans in significant distress to recover.
“In the lead-up to the Victorian state election, we call on all parties to support funding to establish and entrench acute care facility for veterans as part of their election platforms,” Dr Webster said.
If this media release has raised any concerns for you, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. Veterans and their families can access free and confidential 24/7 support from Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling on 1800 011 046. The Safe Zone support line (1800 142 072) is an anonymous support line also operated by Open Arms. To access support through RSL Victoria, please contact Veteran Central via 1300 MILVET (1300 645 838).