Veterans get free counselling service

A FREE and confidential service that offers counselling, group programs and after-hours crisis support 24 hours a day has been launched to assist veterans across the nation.

The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service is available to former serving members who have border protection service, served in a disaster zone or served as a submariner.

The service will also be available to veterans who were involved in training accidents resulting in serious injury or were medically discharged.

Veterans' Affairs Minister Senator Michael Ronaldson said the service was also available to partners and their dependent children along with parents of members killed in service-related incidents.

"The government's priority is to ensure that we have in place the mental health services and supports that are needed for veterans and their families," he said.

"VVCS is at the frontline of mental health and wellbeing support for the Australian veteran and ex-service community.

"The services provided by VVCS are particularly important as they also support the families who significantly support veterans."

Senator Ronaldson said the government would spend $166 million a year on meeting the mental health needs of veterans and their families.

"The funding for treatment is demand driven and it is not capped. If treatment is needed, it is funded," he said.

"We need to develop a strong understanding of the issues and challenges faced by veteran and defence communities including their families, and to have a robust evidence base to inform efforts to reduce stigma around mental illness and to keep improving our services."