Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has fought back tears over “10 years of hell” following her medical discharge from the military and legal battles with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs over compensation.
Senator Lambie appeared Friday before the Royal Commission’s Hobart hearings on Defense and Veteran Suicide, after years of campaigning for an investigation into the country’s armed forces.
She served in the Australian Army for 11 years and was medically discharged in 2000 after sustaining a back injury while training.
Senator Lambie has previously spoken publicly about her 2009 suicide attempt, her heavy use of painkillers and severe depression.
“I want to thank my family for the 10 years of hell they’ve been through,” she told the investigation in an opening statement on Friday.
“That was very difficult for [my parents]watching their daughter… be reduced to essentially an empty human being.
“I want to thank my two sons, who have been through a lot and have seen their mother deteriorate.
“To my youngest son… I know you have paid a very high price. You had to take care of me. I know you still pay the price for that.”
Senator Lambie has spent years in legal battles with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs seeking compensation for physical and mental health problems.
She said the department was monitoring her at her home in Devonport in the early 2000s and a camera had been placed “over her back fence”.
In her maiden speech to the Senate in 2014, Senator Lambie called for a Royal Commission on Armed Forces Culture.
“I never thought about faith or anything, but I did make a deal with God. If he could just give me a second chance at life, I would fight like hell for veterans because I could understand what was going on,” she told the study.
“They didn’t get a fair deal.”
The inquiry has received more than 1,900 submissions since it was called by former Prime Minister Scott Morrison in April 2021.
It will issue an interim report next week, with final recommendations by June 2024.
Tasmania is home to more than 17,500 veterans, believed to be the highest per capita number of any state or territory.
The cohort is disproportionately affected by homelessness compared to the general population, the study has been told.
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