A Plea from Australian Defence Force Vets

January 20th, 2022 - by Dr. Alison Broinowski / Australians for War Powers Reform

A Message from ADF Veterans and Families
To all Australian Parliamentarians

Dr. Alison Broinowski / Australians for War Powers Reform

SYDNEY (January 18, 2022) — Many hundreds of Australian families are today living with the terrible grief of having lost a loved one as a result of military service in Australia’s recent wars. 

A disproportionate number of those deaths were by suicide. Many more veterans and their families are living with war’s emotional and physical traumas. 

Australia relies on our Defence Force members, via their solemnly sworn oath of allegiance, to protect us from armed attack. 

Going to war is a momentous national decision with potentially devastating consequences for Australian troops, Australian society and the people in whose countries we fight.

Australian armed forces personnel face the risks of:
•   killing or being killed in wars that do not necessarily have the support of most Australians; 
•   serious and permanent physical injury;
•   possible exposure to atrocities and other events which will have a permanent psychological impact;
•   where the war is illegal under international law, being complicit in war crimes;
•    involvement in actions that bring civilian harm, possibly on a large scale;
•    experiencing uncertainty about the real reasons for which they are fighting.

We, the undersigned — ADF veterans and our families — therefore regard Australia as being obliged to do everything in its power to ensure that ADF personnel in future are not sacrificed or harmed unnecessarily, and that their families and loved ones know that they are fighting with the support of the Australian people and Parliament. 

Currently a decision for ADF involvement in an overseas war can be made by the prime minister acting alone. Not only the public but also our elected representatives in parliament have no say at all in it.  

This has not done justice to those who have served in the past and will not do so to those who may be called on to serve in future. 

We urge you, our parliamentarians, to demand that any proposal for Australian involvement in overseas wars receives scrutiny in parliament followed by a vote, to ensure that ADF actions have the widespread support of the Australian people as expressed through parliament.

We ask you to change Australian law so that our armed forces cannot be sent to an overseas conflict without the approval of our parliament.  There are no impediments to this legislation that cannot be resolved.

The welfare of those who come after us in serving Australia militarily depends on it, as does our democracy.

Dr. Alison Broinowski AM is the president of Australians for War Powers Reform