Veteran sucides in Brisbane Defence ranks
Veteran sucides in Brisbane Defence ranks

‘Forever loved’: Shock deaths of young veteran dads

Tributes are flowing for two Brisbane-based Defence members and fathers who took their own lives this month.

The deaths of army infantryman Shane Holt and Royal Australian Air Force Airfield Defence Guard Robert Phillips have shocked the Veteran community, coming as part of a wave of suicides in the past three weeks.

Their deaths were announced on the national online community Pineapple Express with family permissions.

For help, call Open Arms Veteran and Family Counselling on 1800 011 046; Safe Zone Support on 1800 142 072; or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

The site advocates for veteran mental health and has raised the alarm about a spate of suicides in the past three weeks involving eight men and one woman, aged from their early 20s to 50s.

A close family member of Mr Holt, 32, who was based at the Enoggera Barracks in Brisbane, has set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for the soldier's funeral and to support his family, including his three-year-old son.

Royal Australian Air Force Airfield Defence Guard Robert Phillips and army infrantryman Shane Holt.
Royal Australian Air Force Airfield Defence Guard Robert Phillips and army infrantryman Shane Holt.

"He was a brave soldier in the Australian Defence Force of the 8/9 Royal Australian Regiment," the post by Tiana Curmi says.

"A loving family man and most importantly, a kind and caring father to his son Hudson.

"Hudson is a loving and boisterous young 3-year-old.

"His loving mum Kelisha and family will endeavour to provide all opportunities his father would have wanted him to have."

A memorial post for Private Shane Holt shared by The Pineapple Express on November 20 with his family’s permission
A memorial post for Private Shane Holt shared by The Pineapple Express on November 20 with his family’s permission

A tribute posted on the Pineapple Express says he enlisted in the army in 2011 and was posted to 8/9 RAR "where he flourished as an infantryman".

"Shane was subsequently deployed on Force Protection Element (FPE-4) to Afghanistan in 2015," it says.

"Shane's soldiering skills and dedication to duty were exemplary however these qualities came second to his reputation as an amazing father and his kind/caring nature. He would always put others before himself."

A tribute on the Pineapple Express to Leading Aircraftman Robert Phillips, 33, who took his life on November 1, says he was based at RAAF Base Amberley and left behind two young children.

"Robert was an awesome mate, hardest worker and he was a great father. He was a big brother to everyone."

A memorial post of Leading Aircraftman Robert Phillips by The Pineapple Express on November 16, 2020.
A memorial post of Leading Aircraftman Robert Phillips by The Pineapple Express on November 16, 2020.

"Adored and cherished father, brother, uncle, comrade and friend. Forever loved, never forgotten."

Previously surges in suicides have coincided with reflective periods such as Anzac Day or the recent Remembrance Day.

Some are blaming cumulative mental health impacts strained by the added stress of the recent Afghanistan war crimes report, which found evidence of 39 murders by Australian Special Forces.

None of the recent suicide deaths are related nor are they directly linked to the Afghanistan war crimes report.

Former Army officer and Queensland MP Brent Mickelberg said the spate of suicides was a "national disgrace".

"When any Veteran dies by suicide it's a tragedy that demonstrates that not enough is being done to support Veterans," he said.

"Australian Veterans are three times more likely to die by suicide than their civilian counterparts."

Former Army officer and current state MP Brent Mickelberg says the rate of Veteran suicides in Australia is a “national disgrace”. Picture: Attila Csaszar
Former Army officer and current state MP Brent Mickelberg says the rate of Veteran suicides in Australia is a “national disgrace”. Picture: Attila Csaszar

He said Veterans needed more from politicians than just "laying wreaths on Anzac Day" and "words and gestures".

"Support mechanisms like the Department of Veterans Affairs are failing our Diggers and something needs to change," he said.

For help, call Open Arms Veteran and Family Counselling on 1800 011 046; Safe Zone Support on 1800 142 072; or Lifeline on 13 11 14.



Friday catch up: Top stories from Ipswich this week

Premium Content Friday catch up: Top stories from Ipswich this week

We are back on Facebook after a brief hiatus, but from our point of view, very...

‘Breathtaking’: Jailed 20-year-old’s shocking history

Premium Content ‘Breathtaking’: Jailed 20-year-old’s shocking history

Police arrested a young man at gun point following a dangerous pursuit through...

CMC festival set to rock on in new streaming event

Premium Content CMC festival set to rock on in new streaming event

A new virtual event will take place over three days in lieu of this year’s CMC...