Funeral for army veteran PTE Bradley Carr in Charters Towers. Glenda Weston, mother of Bradley, is consoled. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Funeral for army veteran PTE Bradley Carr in Charters Towers. Glenda Weston, mother of Bradley, is consoled. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Mother of dead soldier takes aim at review

A GRIEF stricken mother of a veteran who suicided on Anzac Day last year believes her family is being "shafted" by a new commission reviewing deaths among ADF members.

The federal government recently appointed an interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention, who will review death by suicide among ADF members and veterans. The initial report, to be carried out by the recently appointed Interim Commissioner Dr Bernadette Boss CSC, will be delivered within 12 months.

A final report will be delivered within 18 months focusing on suicides between 2001 - 2018.

But a Charters Towers mother told the Townsville Bulletin she has been left asking questions about the scope of the review, with her son's 2019 death, not automatically included.

Glenda Weston's son, Private Bradley Carr, took his own life on Anzac Day 2019, and, said through tears she was devastated her son wouldn't automatically be included in the review.

• Vietnam veteran Garry McGlone recalls horror of Battle of Nui Le

• The cruel twist in fallen soldier Bradley Carr's life

"It should be mandatory. Why the hell do we as family have to beg for this?" Ms Weston said.

"He took his life on Anzac Day to clearly send a message and he deserves to have a review on his death.

"Once again all our wounded and dead heroes are just being shafted and they haven't got a voice because they're all dead."

Ms Weston said her son's final years were 'a living hell' for him and his family, who were helpless to get the help they needed. "My son had no chance because I screamed for help for bloody years and everyone turned their back on me," she said.

"He hated himself in the end and that's why he killed himself and this is what the ADF has done - they're not listening.

"I couldn't help him while he was alive so I'll be damned not to help him in his death and I can't get past them only looking into deaths until 2018."

Ms Weston took her concerns to Herbert MP Phillip Thompson - who lived and served alongside Pte Carr.

Mr Thompson said the scope of the review, led to "unnecessary" angst for families seeking closure.

He said he took the issue up directly with the Prime Minister's Office, Attorney-General and Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel Minister to have the date removed completely.

"It was very concerning for me and I agree with her (Ms Weston) that it's not acceptable," Mr Thompson said.

"I'm getting it changed.

"There is no acceptable stuff up and that was my language to the Minister."

The Commissioner will also look at system-level risk factors to support suicide prevention, and give families the opportunity to tell their stories in a supportive setting, with a focus on restorative justice.

In an internal document leaked to the Townsville Bulletin, the comparisons between the Veteran Commissioner and a Royal Commission outlined the differences of powers.

Unlike a Royal Commission, the function of a Veteran Commissioner would be ongoing.

Other key differences included the Veteran Commissioner's requirement to protect operationally sensitive intelligence information, whereas the Royal Commissions Act does not address processes to manage security sensitive information.

Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel Minister Darren Chester's office referred the Bulletin's questions to the Attorney-General's Office which declined to comment.

Mr Thompson was in strong favour of the Veteran Commissioner, but "bureaucratic speak" wasn't helpful.

If you or someone you know needs help, phone Open Arms Veterans and Families 24/7 Counselling on 1800 011 046 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

 

Originally published as Mother of dead soldier takes aim at Veteran Commissioner review



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