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Free legal service launches to support people engaging with the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide

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  • The Defence and Veterans Legal Service is a free national service providing independent information and legal advice to anybody considering sharing their experiences with the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
  • The Royal Commission was established in July to address the high suicide rates among those who have served in the Australian Defence Forces. The inquiry will open with a ceremonial hearing in Brisbane tomorrow (Friday 26 November), followed by a two-week block of public hearings.
  • Members of the public, including defence members, veterans and their family, carers and supporters, are encouraged to contact DAVLS on 1800 33 1800 (free call) for free, independent legal support.

A free legal service has been launched to support people affected by high suicide rates among the Australian Defence Forces (ADF).

The Defence and Veterans Legal Service (DAVLS) is a free national service providing independent information and legal advice about taking part in the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, which begins tomorrow (Friday 26 November) in Brisbane.

“Sharing information with a Royal Commission can be a daunting prospect, especially when that information is lived experience of suicide,” said Jasmine Stanton, DAVLS Senior Project Officer and former defence member.

“The Defence and Veterans Legal Service has been set up to support ADF personnel and veterans, as well as their families, carers and supporters, to safely navigate this process and any legal issues, and to get follow up support if they need it.

“Our service is trauma-informed, culturally safe and accessible. Most importantly, it is independent and separate from the Royal Commission, the Department of Defence, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.”

An initiative of National Legal Aid, DAVLS is being delivered by Legal Aid Commissions in each state and territory. The service has been funded by the Australian Government for the duration of the Royal Commission.

The Royal Commission was established in July in response to community calls for a national inquiry into systemic issues faced by ADF members and veterans that result in suicide. It will open with a ceremonial hearing in Brisbane tomorrow, followed by two weeks of public hearings from Monday 29 November.

DAVLS will have an information booth at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the hearings are being held.

“We encourage anyone considering sharing their experiences with the Royal Commission to visit our information booth, or to call our free Infoline on 1800 33 1800,” said Stanton.

“We can help you understand your legal rights and options for sharing your experiences with the Royal Commission. We can also support you to make a submission or participate in a private session, and connect you with other services, including counselling.

“Our legal support is free, confidential and available to anyone who needs it – there is no income or assets test, or other eligibility criteria for assistance.”

For more information about the Defence and Veterans Legal Service, call 1800 33 1800 (free call) or visit www.defenceveteranslegalservice.org.au. To arrange further comment or an interview, please contact Kimberley Vlasic at 0407 957 655