Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has told a Royal Commission of the six-week video surveillance conducted by Veterans' Affairs on her in and outside her family home.
Senator Lambie said the resulting report felt intrusive, contained "personal attacks", saying that she never smiled, and included interviews with former schoolmates that described her as having grown up with a "doughy look" on her face.
Her evidence was provided as a lived experience witness at the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicides in Hobart on Friday.
She told the Commission of the 10-year battles she had with the Department of Veterans' Affairs to get medical and other assistance for the chronic and psychological pain she suffered as a result of injury sustained during service in the Australian Defence Force.
Ms Lambie was medically discharged from the army in 2000.
So began a journey of unanswered pain and its treatments, compensation battles with Veteran Affairs', and psychological issues resulting from her ordeal.
"In that first twelve months, claims being denied, not getting the medical help that I needed, and that for me, started to transpire into, over a couple of years, major depression alongside my physical disability," she said.
"I had always been able to beat everything in my life, so for me, I found it really, really difficult that in twelve months, I had lost control of my life."
Senator Lambie said at one stage, Veterans' Affairs conducted video surveillance on her for up to six weeks.
"During the time with Commonwealth rehabilitation services, they had come to a conclusion, probably within three to six months, that they believed I was malingering," Senator Lambie said.
"They decided they would put me under surveillance ... doing that from a bush behind my back fence with a camera lens coming over that fence. I had big windows so you could see all through my kitchen, filming my children, filming my friends and filming me from inside my house," she said.
"They had gone out into the local area to obtain information about me, from people who I had been to school with. I found that terribly intrusive, and quite frankly, there was no reason to do that video surveillance."
The surveillance was used as evidence that impacted her Department of Veterans' Affairs support and entitlements.
Senator Lambie said this decision by Veterans' Affairs was challenged by her and eventually ended up into the Adminstrative Appeals Tribunal.
She said the video surveillance evidence was dismissed.
"It took about five years to get to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ... they were relying very very heavily on the video material that they had obtained," she said.
"That hearing went very favourably for me. The judge at the time told DVA that they will start to assist me, they will give me back my payments and start to do the right thing by me, which gave me some sort of reprieve.
"However I don't think they took much notice ... to me they were quite obstructionist to me after that AAT."
An emotional plea was made by Senator Lambie to all other veterans' to come forward and tell their stories now, to motivate change for the future.
She said the culture of institutionalised silence within Australian military needed to change.
"If we do not fix it this time, we will never ever fix it," Senator Lambie said.
"I'm asking you to find courage, whether you are serving or not, you need to come forward because this is it...it is now or never, so please, come forward and tell your stories. "
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