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Operation Life - Suicide Prevention Workshops

Around one in five Australians will experience a mental health problem at least once in their lives.  Current and former serving members of the Australian Defence Forces are some of the most resilient people in the country but their mental health can suffer, just like the rest of the population. Sometimes these mental health issues can escalate and individuals may become at risk of suicide.

Operation Life is a government initiative to equip veterans and their families with the tools to recognise and act on suicidal tendencies in the early stages. Operation Life aims to prevent suicide and promote mental health and resilience across the veteran community.

Operation Life workshops

VVCS provides Operation Life workshops across Australia at metropolitan and regional locations, depending on demand.

The workshops focus on suicide prevention. They help members of the veteran community to see when someone might be having thoughts of suicide and to link them in with appropriate help. These workshops are not treatment programs.

Workshops are free and open to anyone who is concerned about family, friends, mates or others in the veteran community.

Priority is given to veterans and their families. Eligible veterans may receive assistance for travel costs.

Welfare officers, pension officers and other helpers from ex-service organisations and the veteran community are encouraged to attend.

If an Operation Life workshopis not available in your area then VVCS may be able to help you participate in a similar community suicide prevention workshop.

There are three Operation Life workshops:

  1. safeTALK (suicide alertness for everyone) – a half-day presentation
  2. ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) – 2-day skills training
  3. ASIST Tune-up (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training Tune-Up) – a half-day refresher workshop

Visit Operation Life online.


  1. DVA's preferred provider delivers the LivingWorks Program. Other DVA providers may present different but similar material.
  2. These workshops are not treatment programs

Do you need help now?

If you or someone you know may be suicidal, contact your GP or LMO or a counsellor
If you need emergency assistance:

  • Call 000

For immediate counselling:

  • Veterans Line:  1800 011 046
  • Lifeline:  13 11 14

The Workshops

See the VVCS group programs calendar or phone VVCS on 1800 011 046 in business hours to find out what is available in your area.

safeTALK (suicide alertness for everyone)

Most people with thoughts of suicide signal their distress and invite help. These opportunities are often missed, dismissed or avoided – leaving people more alone and at greater risk. In safeTALK you will learn how to become more alert to suicide prevention opportunities and how to offer help.

  • See video role play reminders of why suicide alertness matters.
  • Hear how open, direct talk about suicide can increase safety.
  • Discuss barriers to helping.
  • Practice basic helping steps.

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training: (ASIST)

Most people thinking about suicide signal their pain and intentions – they offer us opportunities to respond. This is the prevention opportunity. The suicide first aid learned in ASIST can help all of us see, hear and respond to these invitations. It prepares us to work with people at risk to increase their immediate safety and to get further help. ASIST applies equally to everyday situations with family, friends, co-workers or teammates and to professional roles or volunteering.

Attendance at both days is essential.

  • Recognise when someone may be thinking of suicide
  • Respond in ways that clarify and address suicide risk
  • Understand why suicide thoughts are present
  • Work together to review risk and increase safety
  • Link to further help.

ASIST Tune-up (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training Tune-up)

A half-day workshop for people who are seeking to update, review, or enhance their ASIST skills.

Regular annual tune-ups are recommended for everyone trained in ASIST.

The workshop includes case examples, video of role plays, group discussions and skills practice.