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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
7 April 2020
The Australian Government extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr Jesse Bird and honours his service to our country.
The loss of a current or former Australian Defence Force (ADF) member is deeply felt by the entire Defence and veteran community, and when it comes to veteran suicide, the only acceptable number for me is zero — the only acceptable number for the Australian people is zero.
At the request of Mr Bird’s family, a coronial inquest into the factors that contributed to Jesse’s death was held in the Victorian Coroner’s Court and today the Coroner Jacqui Hawkins handed down her findings.
The Government has acknowledged there were failings in the handling of Jesse’s case. Since his death considerable effort has been put into improving the support available to veterans and their families, including a strong focus on assistance for at-risk veterans and those suffering from mental health conditions as well as simplifying systems and processes to make it easier to access support.
Jesse’s death was a tragedy and I urge any veteran who needs help or has mental health concerns to reach out, support is available. Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling provides 24-hour free and confidential counselling to current and former ADF members and their family. This service is available on 1800 011 046.
The Government is working with veterans and their families every day to improve services and support for those who have served in the ADF.
I thank the Coroner and her team for their work, and the advocacy of the Bird family on behalf of their son and all Australian servicemen and women.