Senator welcomes mental health trial for Townsville defence community

Townsville based Senator Ian Macdonald has today welcomed news that Townsville will become one of the first Suicide Prevention Trial Site’s in the country, focussing specifically on the mental health of veterans and defence personnel.

The trial will be carried out as part of the National Mental Health Commission’s review, in conjunction with clinical experts and a reference group of current and former defence personnel, of the effectiveness of existing suicide and self-harm prevention services.

Senator Macdonald said with Townsville being home to the largest army base in the country and a community where veterans settle, it was imperative that mental health and suicide prevention were removed from the ‘taboo’ list and made part of the general conversation around health in the North.

“With a veteran defence population of the region approaching 10,000, it’s time mental health was recognised as being one of the more serious health issues that affects a large portion of our community,” Senator Macdonald said.

Senator Macdonald said the trial, which will be carried out by the North Queensland Primary Health Network, will consider:

  • The range of services available to current and former serving members and their families
  • The effectiveness of these services in supporting members and their families while they serve, as they transition from Defence to civilian life, and later in their civilian life
  • Any duplication or gaps in current services and how they might be addressed
  • Any barriers to current and former serving members accessing services, taking into account cultural relevance, availability of providers, employment, functional capacity and degree of ill health
  • The extent to which former serving members utilise services provided by other parts of government, ex-service organisations, the private sector or non-government organisations
  • Whether there is balance in the way in which the military experience is understood by and communicated to the Australian community, recognising the impacts that it can have on the mental health of those who have served but also the positive benefits that are derived from the military experience
  • The reporting of and incidence of suicide amongst serving and former serving ADF members compared to the broader Australian community.

Senator Macdonald said the review would complement the $46.4million for veterans and defence personnel to access free mental health treatment announced in this year’s budget.

“I am also pleased to see that the North Queensland Primary Health Network will partner with Townsville Legacy to host the trial.

“It’s reassuring to see that one of our most recognised ex-serviceperson’s support organisation will play an integral role in supporting this new service for our defence population,” Senator Macdonald said.

The review, based on the trials, is expected to provide an interim report in December and a full report in February next year.


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