A Wagga-based female veteran says a new report revealing the suicide rate of women who have served is more than twice that of Australian women highlights the need for the issue to be taken seriously.
For the first time the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released suicide information for female veterans in its most recent report.
It revealed that 21 women took their own lives between 2001 and 2017, however the historically low number of females serving in the Australian Defence Force meant the information could not be released until now.
The female veteran from Wagga, who did not wish to be named for privacy reasons, said the inclusion of this information was an important step to help validate their ongoing struggles with mental health.
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There have been 419 suicides in the current and former Australian Defence Force personnel from 2001 to 2017.
The report found suicide rates of serving men in the defence force were 48 per cent lower than those who have not served, but male veterans had a 18 per cent higher suicide rate and female veterans had a 115 per cent higher rate.
The local veteran said the inclusion of suicide rates for ex-servicewomen, as well as the ongoing updates on veteran rates was bringing the issue out in the open.
She said the federal government has data that it needs to take action on.
"If this is the baseline then it needs to be looked at with great concern whether it be through education, or for the Department of Veterans' Affairs, or another entity to look at how they can do better," she said.
The federal government invests $11.5 billion a year to support veterans and their families, including more than $230 million a year on veteran mental health for which funding is uncapped.
However, she said more financial support is required to make mental health services widely accessible.
She said current funding is drained on unnecessary processes rather than putting "boots on the ground".
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said each death "was tragic and the only acceptable number is zero".
He said there have been positive changes to the veterans' support system focusing on mental health and wellbeing, as well as improvements being made to services support, transition and employment.
However, he said more can be done to ensure veterans and their families are supported now and into the future.