Joint Media Release -  8 August 2001

The heads of the Returned and Services League of Australia, Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia, and the Vietnam Veterans' Association of Australia today issued a joint statement urging Vietnam veterans to support Project 'ASIST' , a joint initiative of the three organisations and the Department of Veterans Affairs to address the high rate of suicide on children of Vietnam Veterans. Major General Peter Phillips, Tim McCombe and Brian McKenzie said today We are making this joint statement to ask you to join with us in seeking to save the lives of our sons and daughters who may be at risk of suicide. Sadly, some of us will know from direct experience the tragic and lasting impact of suicide on families and friends. Almost certainly, we will know someone, young or old, who has taken his or her life.

We believe that members of the veteran community can play a very important role in contributing to the efforts to prevent suicide across Australia. Suicide prevention is everybody's business. It is not a problem that will be solved by health professionals alone.

We want to challenge you to think about this question: 'How can we support our mates and family members to choose life when painful experiences may be preventing them from seeing a way forward?'

We have come together independent of our links to different organisations to help to develop ideas to help answer this question. The intent is to work on a project aiming to increase the skill and confidence of veterans and their families to assist people at risk of self-harm, as most people considering suicide signal their distress and their intent.

The most beneficial approach would be to encourage members of the veteran community to undertake practical training to be able help those in distress.

Such a course is available through Lifeline Australia. Named 'Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training' (ASIST) it provides practical skills to care givers with an emphasis on providing 'suicide first aid' - helping a person at risk to stay safe and seek further help. The ASIST course focuses on developing basic skills.

ASIST aims to give both professionals and community members/volunteers the confidence to identify someone at risk and to help steer them into a safer direction.

Training may not be for everyone, but we ask you, whether you are a veteran, a partner, a son or daughter to consider participating over the next year.

To find out more please contact one of the following representatives:

  • Ray De Vere (R&SLA) 07 3221 0722
  • Tim McCombe (VVFA) 02 9682 1788
  • Bob Tyrrell (VVFA) 02 6286 4837
  • John Smith (VVAA) 07 5498 5202
  • Brian McKenzie (VVAA) 03 6247 7778


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