POSITIVE POLICY

Counting the Cost: Veterans’ Homelessness and Suicide

Labor recognises that mental health issues arising from active service, including as post-traumatic stress disorder, have affected veterans from all conflicts. We encourage and support measures designed to ensure that existing programs take account of the mental health requirements of veterans.

A Shorten Labor will fund a comprehensive study into veterans’ homelessness, in addition to establishing an ‘ADF Flag’ for minimum data sets on homelessness and suicide.

A Study into Veterans’ Homelessness

Approximately 10 per cent of Australian’s experiencing homelessness are from the veteran community—a shocking statistic.

Yet there is no comprehensive system to collect data that would allow the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, ex-service organisations and frontline homelessness services to identify, connect and support veterans experiencing homelessness. 

To redress this, a Shorten Labor Government will fund a comprehensive study into veterans’ homelessness to identify members of the veteran community who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

A Minimum Data Set On Homelessness and Suicide

As part of its mental health policy, Labor has committed to working with States and Territories to build an accurate picture of deaths by suicide and suicide attempts and agree to a national minimum data set for suicide prevention.  As part of this initiative, Labor will ensure the inclusion of an ‘ADF flag’ within this data set, to allow governments to identify if an individual had previously served in the ADF or was a partner or child of an individual who served in the ADF. The inclusion of an ADF flag would ensure that data can be disaggregated by ADF service and an ongoing record of veterans’ suicide could be maintained, regardless of whether that death is the subject of a DVA dependant compensation claim.

As noted above, there is currently no comprehensive system to collect data that allows governments and service providers to identify homeless veterans. To address this information gap, Labor will work with States and Territories to include an ‘ADF flag’ within the existing Specialist Homelessness Service Collection (SHSC) which accumulates data from frontline homelessness services based on a national minimum data set. 

This will ensure that governments and frontline services providers are able to access an accurate picture of the level of veterans’ homelessness and their needs, including how they use services.  This will support future policy development and better targeting of existing veterans’ support and services, as well as providing a benchmark against which homelessness prevention initiatives can be assessed and help avoid duplication of services.

You can read further information by clicking here.