Royal Commission Defence and Veteran Suicide


Of conditions claimed for by ADF veterans, hearing loss and tinnitus are the second and third most frequent. Soundfair is advocating for better understanding of the social and emotional impacts of hearing conditions, which can include increased isolation, significant mental health issues and suicide.

The announcement of a Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran suicide could be an important step towards addressing the social and emotional needs of those ADF active members experiencing hearing conditions and the 2500 veterans who claim for hearing loss or tinnitus every year (data from 2014 to 2020).

Dr Jessica Vitkovic, acting CEO of Soundfair, said: “Hearing conditions are invisible, but their effects are not. As a not-for-profit committed to creating a world of hearing equality, Soundfair knows that having a hearing condition means you are more likely to experience mental health conditions and reduced mental wellbeing. When people with hearing conditions do seek mental health support, this population’s needs are not met. Many people with hearing conditions, especially tinnitus, have significant challenges accessing and navigating their way to finding appropriate mental health professionals who are knowledgeable and experienced with the consequences of these conditions and who are able to offer appropriate support.” The stigma associated with hearing conditions and the discrimination people who live with hearing loss face in their everyday lives can exacerbate poor mental health. Lack of social connection and difficulty in relationships are also often reported by people with hearing conditions. Finally, acute tinnitus is associated with an increased risk of suicide. 

Dr Vitkovic said: “Australia’s device-centric model of hearing health means that the social and emotional impacts of living with a hearing condition are often overlooked and people are left to struggle on their own. Soundfair is working to address this gap in service provision and catalyse change in the hearing health sector. We look forward to making a submission to the newly established Royal Commission.”