Families Of Veterans Guild

The Royal Commission hands over lived experience book to the Governor General

“Shining a Light – Stories of Trauma, Tragedy & Hope”

Yesterday the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide handed over its Lived Experience book Shining a Light – Stories of Trauma, Tragedy & Hope to the Governor General. The book was subsequently released by the Government later in the afternoon. The book which is available here includes reading advice and icons throughout the publication to help readers manage any emotional impacts of reading the book’s content. The chapters focus on:

  • Recruitment and early training
  • Life in uniform
  • Leadership and its impact
  • Mental health battles
  • Suicide and suicidality
  • Families and loved ones
  • From service to civilian life
  • Ex-service organisations
  • Dealing with DVA
  • Growth from trauma

This significant and courageous publication means that the stories of veterans and their families will live on well after the Commission ends and this is significant. “The Royal Commission has brought the issues to life in such a meaningful way through lived experience, such that it makes it almost impossible for those who read them not to take any form of accountability, and not to do something about what they read ” said Renee Wilson, CEO Families of Veterans Guild.

Renee went on to say “Australia doesn’t know enough about the challenges and sacrifices of veterans and their families, and the Royal Commission has helped it understand. Bringing issues within our community out into the open through publications like this, also helps Australia understand the costs of its peace and security.”

Content warning:

‘Shining A Light: Stories of Trauma & Tragedy, Hope & Healing’ may be difficult for some to read. Remember you’re not alone. There may be many people feeling the same as you, or who have had similar experiences. Please take your time with the book and note that chapters do not need to be read in order, please ensure you are supported if you chose to read through the stories in this publication and remind yourself of support numbers such as Lifeline: 13 11 14.

What is next for the Royal Commission?

The Commission is in its final stages of preparing its report, due to be handed over to the Governor General in September 2024.

The Commission will hold a Ceremonial Hearing in Sydney to formally bring an end to its work on 28 August 2024 – you can learn more about that hearing and keep up to date with the Commission here.

What does the Guild wants to see as a result of the Royal Commission?

Fundamental system transformation.  

For too long we’ve tinkered at the edges, we have tried to address the symptoms of the problem without actually solving the problems we have come across. Who are “we”? We are every actor in this system, government and non-government who have the ability to make a change and do something.

We have a responsibility to future generations, as the custodians of this system today, to address the problems that are more than abundantly clear. We can’t hand them off to another generation again, we can’t make them someone else’s problem to solve: the Guild wants real reform to come out of this Commission.

The Guild wants families of veterans to have pathways to support that don’t currently exist for them.

The Guild wants investment into the veteran community sector, to enable it to build its capacity, its capability and drive its innovation. Including partnerships between government and the community sector.

The Guild wants an independent body to oversee the progress, because the biggest lesson that we have learned is that we can’t stop now, and as a sector, we need accountability.

If we stop now, we have failed.

We need an independent entity to ensure accountability and make sure that we do justice to every single lived experience witness that has had the courage to come forward and bare their souls before us and before Australia.

For what they have done this is what we must do.

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