A fired-up Jacqui Lambie has demanded attempted suicides be investigated as part of the government's national commission into veterans taking their own lives.

A senate committee is reviewing the government's proposal to establish a National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention, after Bernadette Boss was named in an interim capacity.

Once legislated, the National Commissioner would be tasked with developing systemic reforms to prevent suicide among current and former Australian Defence Force members.

But the outspoken senator says the proposal does not go far enough and is calling for a royal commission.

She demanded to know why the proposal does not explicitly give Ms Boss power to investigate attempted suicides.

Senator Jacqui Lambie is calling for a royal commission into veterans suicide. Picture Gary Ramage
Senator Jacqui Lambie is calling for a royal commission into veterans suicide. Picture Gary Ramage

Iain Anderson from the Attorney-General's Department says the bill allows the commissioner to explore anything she deems relevant to veteran suicide.

"We believe it does provide the scope to inquire into attempted suicide. But ultimately that would be a matter for the National Commissioner as to how they direct their energy," he said.

"Can you just amend the bill to simply say the inquiry can include attempted suicide?" Senator Lambie replied.

Mr Anderson said it was up to the government to clarify the bill, but there was "no reason why it couldn't".

Senator Lambie has previously criticised a culture within the Department of Veterans Affairs she claims has contributed to veteran suicide.

DVA secretary Liz Cosson concedes she has heard veterans "talk about the loss of trust" in the department.

"I always express concern when I hear that, because it does remove the hope that we are there to support them ... Particularly if they've experienced attempted suicide, I say to them: come to the department so we can provide you the support that is available to you," she said.

Mr Anderson said the Attorney-General's Department is also working with states to develop a framework allowing coroners to contribute to the commission without negatively affecting their current roles.

The suicide rate among Australian veterans was 18 per cent higher than the rest of the population between 2001 and 2017.

Originally published as Lambie demands deeper vet suicide probe


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