Scott Morrison has admitted some of the nation’s most vulnerable veterans are being failed by federal government agencies.
The prime minister has called for urgent departmental briefings, in response to an increase in former Australian Defence personnel self-harming.
Mr Morrison said the mental health challenges confronting veterans were very concerning.
“Still it is the case that people are taking their own lives, and are finding the stresses and strains of mental health issues that they are combating too much,” he told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.
“So as Australians, it’s our job to reach out to them and make sure that they can connect to those services, and that those services are at the places and delivered in the way that can make a big difference.”
The prime minister said people knew to seek help when they were injured or physically sick.
“But when it comes to mental health, sometimes we’re unaware of those signs, and we’re unaware of those signs in each other, so it’s important that we’re aware of those,” he said.
“In the same way we would reach out and seek to connect with health services when we’re suffering from a physical health condition, we need to do the same for ourselves and each other when it comes to mental health.”
A report commissioned by the federal government has found the suicide risk among former Australian Defence Force personnel has doubled.
Some mental illnesses have appeared to lay dormant during military service, only to be diagnosed at a later stage.
The report found more attention needed to be paid to veterans once they returned to civilian life.
“Most worryingly, in the current report, the rate of suicidality doubled in those who transitioned between 2010 and 2015, to the extent that one in four personnel who transitioned out of the ADF reported suicidality,” it found.
“There is an opportunity for early intervention for many of these individuals because two-thirds of ADF personnel who reported suicidality during ADF service still reported suicidality after transition.”