Canberra magistrate and coroner Bernadette Boss has been named the interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.
Dr Boss began her career as a nurse after studying a Bachelor of Science in London and later studying law.
During her 25-year career in defence, she became the first female commanding officer of the Sydney University regiment and the first female officer to conduct an inquiry into the combat death of a soldier after she investigated the death of Lance Corporal Jared McKinney in Iraq in 2010.
Dr Boss was appointed as a magistrate in the ACT in 2012.
Veterans' Affairs Minister Darren Chester welcomed the announcement.
"The appointment of an interim commissioner is a significant step forward as we work to ensure our personnel and veterans have the help they need, when and where they need it when it comes to their mental health," Mr Chester said.
"I congratulate Dr Boss on her appointment as the interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention who will start working to identify and understand the factors and systemic issues that may contribute to suicide risk and provide recommendations to improve prevention efforts.
"As a current magistrate and coroner in the Australian Capital Territory, Dr Boss has the skills and expertise to examine these tragic instances of ADF and veteran suicides to understand practical actions to reduce suicide risk."
Legislation is currently before parliament to make the role permanent. Once legislated, the National Commissioner will have the power, scope and resources to inquire into deaths by suicide in order to develop system-wide reforms to prevent suicide and support Australian Defence Force members and veterans.
Findings and recommendations will be reported publicly to the Parliament each year.
- If you need support, Open Arms offers Veterans & Families Counselling provides free and confidential support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Help is available 24/7 on 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au