MENTAL health champion John Shanahan said government well-being strategy talks and calls for a national royal commission into veterans' suicide was only as good as actions to back this up.
And he said there had been far from enough government action or support in what was a complex issue, not just for the Australian Defence Force but also particularly among emergency services personnel.
Federal, state and territory officials were to meet on Friday to discuss ways to improve support for serving and veteran personnel.
Ballarat's Mr Shanahan said it was time for the government to really step up and lead.
Mr Shanahan carries on his son Nathan's legacy in annual Walking Off the War Within events across the country to raise awareness and support for mental health of emergency and military services personnel.
Mr Shanahan said in talking to those who serve, the main theme he and his family find each year is they want their struggles to be acknowledged. Grassroots events were important, but so too was government recognition.
"These people are telling me what we're doing is bringing their issues into the public, bringing their stories into view. They're wanting help but feel they're not getting it," Mr Shanahan said.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's annual snapshot released on Friday showed 42 serving and veteran ADF personnel died by suicide between 2016 and 2017. That takes the number of certified suicides from 2001 to 2017 to 419.
For the first time, the report shows female completed suicides, previously not mentioned due to the historically low number of women in the defence force. Twenty-one women who been serving in the armed forces took their own lives between 2001-2017.
These people are telling me what we're doing is bringing their issues into the public...They're wanting help but feel they're not getting it.John Shanahan
Next month the Shanahan family will mark three years since Nathan Shanahan, a former special forces soldier and fireman, took his own life. Nathan had been experiencing post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression stemming from his service.
Victorian Coroner Caitlin English, in an inquest to Nathan's death released earlier this year, recommended the AIHW and Coroners' Court do better in sharing information to prevent suicides of Australian Defence Force personnel.
The AIHW annual snapshot was commissioned by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Mr Shanahan said there was also the bigger societal issue. In the time since Nathan's death, the national suicide rate had almost doubled to 8.5 Australians taking their own lives each day. These were only the confirmed suicides with the rate likely to be higher due to complexities in recording deaths.
Just because it's not easy doesn't mean we should not act.John Shanahan
"These figures indicate to me we, as a society, are not doing enough," Mr Shanahan said.
"The government now has to step up on all sides and attack this...we all need to get a lot better at understanding this. It's hard, every case is so different. We cannot keep sweeping this under the carpet.
"Just because it's not easy doesn't mean we should not act."
If this story has raised issues for you, please call: Open Arms - Veterans and Families Counselling 1800 011 046 or Lifeline 13 11 14.
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