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Help offered to SA defence force families

South Australia’s Legal Services Commission has urged the families and supporters of veterans to seek its help in preparing submissions to Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicides.

With its reporting deadline recently extended by the federal government, the Legal Services Commission has launched a new service to help veterans and their families take part in the inquiry.

“When veterans and defence members experience challenges arising from their military service, they will often turn to their families and trusted supporters,” chief executive Gabrielle Canny said.

“Those families and supporters are therefore uniquely placed to seek advice and find out about the legal options that are available to their family members who served in the military.

“The family members and supporters of veterans can also engage with the royal commission to share their stories of supporting their loved ones.”

Ms Canny said her organisation often found that veterans or their family members were dealing with a cluster of legal problems.

“They might initially need help with their submission to the royal commission but, at the same time, they can also be grappling with legal problems regarding military compensation, family law matters or veterans’ entitlements,” she said.

“The legal assistance we provide recognises the enormous sacrifices that military personnel make in the service of their country.”

The need for expert assistance was highlighted in recent evidence before the royal commission which was told the Department of Veterans’ Affairs was not fit to meet the needs of past and present defence members.

The agency’s boss Elizabeth Cosson said problems included a backlog of more than 60,000 claims by veterans and serving defence members.

In a written statement, Ms Cosson – whose army service spanned more than three decades – said the DVA was not delivering what former and serving defence members needed.

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