Offensive remarks condemned

RSL Queensland 30 March 2021

RSL Queensland condemns offensive remarks reportedly made by RSL National President Greg Melick

RSL Queensland State President Tony Ferris today condemned RSL National President Greg Melick's reported comments about a grieving mother, Julie-Ann Finney, and those who have publicly supported her high-profile campaign lobbying the Federal Government for a Royal Commission.         

"We want to be very clear that RSL Queensland and our members do not support these highly offensive and insensitive comments as reported in the media, directed to a grieving mother. She has been campaigning tirelessly since losing her veteran son to suicide and trying to bring a positive way forward for veterans,” Mr Ferris said.

"It is an unimaginable tragedy when a veteran takes their own life. Supporting veterans who are struggling with mental health issues is one of RSL Queensland’s highest ongoing priorities. We support more than 33,000 veterans each year, answering more than 14,000 calls and submitting more than 5,000 claims on behalf of veterans directly to The Department of Veteran Affairs.”

This vital work is undertaken by RSL Queensland, its network of Sub Branches, its partners and other ex-service organisations around Australia.

RSL Queensland last week welcomed the Federal Parliament’s bipartisan support for a Royal Commission into veteran suicide and called for urgent implementation of the recommendations of previous inquiries to enact substantive, immediate change. 

Australia’s veterans need – and well deserve – immediate government action to address the many factors which lead to veteran suicides. 

That includes many of the recommendations outlined in the 2019 Inquiry Report, A Better Way to Support Veterans, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs being appropriately resourced with experienced delegates to reduce veterans’ wait times on compensation claims.

Mr Ferris committed that RSL Queensland would work with the Australian Government to ensure the Royal Commission is established quickly and that its Terms of Reference are appropriately framed.

“Queensland is home to more veterans than any other state. We will actively canvass our members to assist the government in framing the range of issues to be considered by the Royal Commission, ensuring it has appropriate scope and powers.

“RSL Queensland will collaborate with our colleagues in other RSL State Branches across Australia – and our network of some 225 Sub Branches across Queensland – to expand the delivery of veteran services. 

“These are the services which, through early intervention, directly address the root causes of veteran suicide.

"Our services include access to health and crisis support though our RSL Advocates, supporting veterans and their families with our wellbeing programs, housing accommodation, our award-winning employment program, skill development and spouse scholarships, and mental and physical health programs delivered by our subsidiary Mates4Mates,” Mr Ferris said.

Since 2015, RSL Queensland has funded the Service to Civilian Life study – conducted by the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation (GMRF) – as part of a $14 million commitment to veterans’ mental health research.

This research resulted in development of a ground-breaking new tool to measure adjustment after military service: the Military to Civilian Adjustment and Reintegration Measure (M-CARM). It is set to be used nationally by the veteran community as a self-assessment tool. The Service to Civilian Life study is one of the world’s largest qualitative research projects into the veteran transition process.