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  • Mental support for deployed ADF can vary

    Author: AAP

It is unclear whether mental health support and services are adequately supplied to serving ADF personnel on deployment, a royal commission has been told.

On the penultimate day of Townsville's block of hearings at the royal commission into defence and veteran suicide, the topic of critical incidents and support on deployment was analysed.

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Group Captain Karen Breaden, Director of Personnel, Joint Operations Command said "no and yes" when asked if it's standard for mental health professionals to be deployed as part of an ADF complement.

She said every deployed contingent will have access to mental health support, but that is varied depending on size and location.

"We would either have a psychologist or other clinical SME (subject matter expert) embedded in the contingent to deploy forward," Group Capt Breaden said.

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"If that is not the case, or the numbers are smaller, then we can either call on our coalition partners if we need to.

"But there is always a reach back to Australia for any support that a commander needs at any point in time."

The commission then heard a commander of a contingent is responsible for monitoring mental health of personnel and can ultimately assess whether they, or members of the contingent, require support.

When asked by Erin Longbottom QC whether commanders have mental health training and are equipped to identify emerging health issues, Ms Breaden could not confirm.

"That would be a question for the services," she replied.

"But I actually can't talk to whether a commander would or would not have mental health training, or skills, or qualifications skills."

The commission, which began its inquiry in 2021, is examining systemic and cultural failures that have led to high rates of suicide among members and veterans.

Its final day of hearings at Australia's largest garrison city will hear from a First Nations panel and the challenges of service life faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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