Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) Final report to the Independent Review of Past Defence and Veteran Suicides, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 02 December 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Final report to the Independent Review of Past Defence and Veteran Suicides. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/independent-review-past-defence-veterans-suicides
Final report to the Independent Review of Past Defence and Veteran Suicides. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 29 September 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/independent-review-past-defence-veterans-suicides
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Final report to the Independent Review of Past Defence and Veteran Suicides [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021 [cited 2022 Dec. 2]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/independent-review-past-defence-veterans-suicides
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2021, Final report to the Independent Review of Past Defence and Veteran Suicides, viewed 2 December 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/veterans/independent-review-past-defence-veterans-suicides
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98% (143) had a processed claim related to their health or disability condition
74% (108) received an income payment, supplement or compensation payment
62% (90) were DVA health card holders: 73% (66) White card holders and 27% (24) Gold card holders
This chapter reports on administrative client data collected by DVA, which records information about ADF members making a DVA claim, receiving income or a payment, using a DVA-funded health service or support service and whether they are a health card holder. The analysis covers access to DVA services by veterans in the study cohort with at least 1 day of service in the ADF between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2018.
Between 2001 and 2018, there were 42,798 (36%) ex-serving ADF members who were DVA clients; comprising 37,023 (37%) males and 5,775 (32%) females. The proportion for ex-serving ADF members who were DVA clients increased from 29% in 2001 to 36% in 2018; (Figure 13). This increase is mostly due to the introduction of new programs or policy change over time including changes to the Non-Liability Health Care arrangement in July 2017 and White Card on Transition project in mid- 2018 (DVA, 2020).
Mid-2018 - Eligibility for the treatment of any mental health condition expanded to include reservists that have rendered Reserve Service Days with:
Mid-2018 - The White Card on Transition project commenced, with DVA issuing White Cards to transitioning members as they separate from the ADF. The White Card can be used to access Non-Liability Health Care (NLHC) treatment for any mental health condition, at any point in the person's life. The 'claim' for NLHC is taken to be when the person first uses the White Card to access treatment, at which time they also become eligible to receive Veterans Supplement.
See DVA – Non-Liability Health Care (NLHC) for more information.
Source: AIHW analysis of PMKeyS–NDI–DVA, 2001−2018.
Over one third (37% or 15,995) of ex-serving ADF DVA clients had at least 1 mental health condition related claim1 processed between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2018. Among those who had a processed mental health condition related claim, three-quarters (74% or 11,894 ex-serving ADF DVA clients) had their listed conditions processed under the non-liability health care arrangement2.
The largest proportion of ex-serving ADF members had mental health condition related claims processed under mood (affective) disorders followed by post-traumatic stress disorder, acute stress reaction and adjustment disorders (Table 12).
Mental health condition type(a)
Mood (affective) disorders
Post-traumatic stress disorder, acute stress reaction, adjustment disorders
Neurotic, stress-related and somatoform disorders
Psychoactive substance use
Note: (a) Groupings of mental health claims based on ICD-10 classifications. See Technical notes for a full list of mental health groupings.
Sources: AIHW analysis of linked PMKeyS—NDI—DVA data, 2001–2018.
Between 2001 and 2018, 1543 ADF members who died by suicide were DVA clients at the time of death. This comprised 146 males (99 (68%) were ex-serving; 22 (15%) were serving; 25 (17%) were reserves) and 8 females (all ex-serving) (Table 13).
The rate of ex-serving male non-DVA clients who died by suicide (25 per 100,000) was lower than ex-serving male DVA clients who died by suicide (36 per 100,000).
Note: 3. 37 ADF members who died by suicide had either been issued a White card, had a DVA or MBS service claim processed, or received a payment after their death. For the purposes of this study and the limitations of the data-driven definition, these ADF members are not defined as DVA clients at time of death.
Between 2001 and 2018, 90 male ADF members who died by suicide were either a White or Gold card holder (66 White card and 24 Gold card). Over 1 in 4 ex-serving (26%), 6% of serving and 24% of reserve males who died by suicide were a White card holder.
Less than 35 years
55 years and over
Any operational experience
No operational experience
Length of service(e)
Less than 1 year
1 to less than 5 years
5 to less than 10 years
10 or more years
Time since separation(e)
Among 146 male DVA clients who died by suicide, 75 male ADF members had a processed claim relating to mental health any time prior to death (Table 14). There were 14 ADF members who died by suicide and had only rejected mental health condition related claims, noting, these ADF members’ death and their claims were processed prior to the policy changes of non-liability health care arrangement (DVA, 2021).
Mental Health Condition by Type(a)
Note: (a) Groupings of mental health claims based on ICD10-AM classifications. See Technical notes for a full list of mental health groupings.
Some readers may find parts of this content confronting or distressing.
Caution: Some readers may find parts of this content confronting or distressing.
Please carefully consider your needs when reading the following information about suicide. This report contains information on numbers and rates of death, method of suicide and risk factors (including suicide ideation and self-harm). This report may be distressing to some readers.
If this material raises concerns for you, support is available. Please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Defence All-hours Support Line on 1800 628 036, or Open Arms - Veterans and Families Counselling, available free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or see other ways you can seek help.
The information included here places an emphasis on data, and as such, can appear to depersonalise the pain and loss behind the statistics. The AIHW acknowledges the individuals, families and communities affected by ADF member and veteran suicide each year in Australia.
The AIHW supports the use of the Mindframe guidelines on responsible, accurate and safe suicide and self-harm reporting. Please consider these guidelines when reporting on statistics on the monitoring of suicide and self-harm.
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