This article kindly submitted by DAVLS Community Engagement Officer, Nicholas Warren
The Defence and Veterans Legal Service (DAVLS) is a free national service established to support anyone who is considering making a submission to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. The service is staffed by specialist lawyers who work in Legal Aid Commissions in each State and territory and offers legal support service for the duration of the Royal Commission. Many of the lawyers within DAVLS are veterans themselves or have close family connections with the ADF.
The Royal Commission’s broad terms of reference provides the opportunity for anyone with relevant experiences or insights to share their story by making a submission or requesting a confidential private session with a commissioner.
Those making submission may benefit from DAVLS services that can help them ensure their privacy and avoid potential legal issues such as those associated with defamation and compliance with national security legislation.
DAVLS Director and former ADF member, Jasmine Stanton, advises that there are many ways DAVL can assist.
“Many people are telling us the Royal Commission is bringing up memories they have never shared before. Others have reported feeling confused by the requirements of making a submission. Our aim is to make access to the Royal Commission as easy and effective as possible, through a trauma-informed approach to providing our support.”
So far, more than 300 people have accessed the DAVLS services since the commencement of public hearings three months ago.
Beyond personalised legal advice, the main request has been for assistance in drafting submissions and connecting the evidence provided to the Commission’s terms of reference to improve the effectiveness of the submission by drawing attention to key issues and recommendations as they relate to the terms of reference.
DAVLS services are completely free, confidential, and available to anyone who wants to engage with this Royal Commission. Using the service does not commit you to any particular action but is aimed at putting you in control of how you might engage with the Royal Commission.
Anyone considering sharing their experiences with the Royal Commission is encouraged to call the DAVLS Infoline at 1800 33 1800.