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Review into the Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention Services Available to current and former serving ADF
members and their families

National Mental Health Commission

28 March 2017

As with all the National Mental Health Commission’s work, the approach of this Review was to place current and former serving members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), and their families, at the centre of our considerations. Through our survey, submissions, group discussions and individual interviews, we heard directly from more than 3,200 people.

While some stories pointed out instances of good practice and positive outcomes, there were many strong views presented by current and former ADF members and their families that identified areas for improvements to systems, services, beliefs and culture.

People who reported they had recently accessed mental health treatment rated their experience of services very highly. A survey conducted for the Review found that experiences were described as fair, good, very good or excellent by 80% of current ADF members and by 90% of former ADF members using health care cards to access services.

However, qualitatively, we also heard a broad range of poor experiences of services and general feelings of cynicism, distrust, frustration, abandonment and loss. For many, these are the realities of what being in the military brings and the sacrifice that is asked of them and their families in service of their country. It is not known however whether these experiences relate to recent or past experiences of the service systems. Nor is it known the extent to which these sentiments are felt across the broader estimated population of more
than 700,000 current and former ADF members and an even higher number of their family members. Nevertheless, these stories and experiences are real and deserve to be heard and responded to.

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