HEALTH - Online Program Gives Veterans Tools To Thrive

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RAL Qld Branch

Veterans struggling with transition and mental health issues will be able to access online peer-to-peer support through a new pilot partnership from RSL Queensland and Survive to Thrive Nation.

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The pilot will enable veterans to access the Post War: Survive to Thrive personal development coaching program.

RSL Queensland General Manager Scott Denner said Survive to Thrive provided a valuable forum for veterans to build resilience and regain control of their lives.
“A significant difference with the Survive to Thrive program is that it has been developed by a veteran to address the issues he was facing in his own life,” Mr Denner said.
“There is sometimes a perception among veterans that civilian health professionals cannot understand what they are going through, but they can recognise the military mindset that underlies the Survive to Thrive program.
“As well as providing personal development coaching, Survive to Thrive allows veterans to connect with others who have been through similar experiences and come out the other side.”
“It is also a great option for veterans who are living in rural or remote areas, who may have limited access to face-to-face support programs,” Mr Denner said.
He said an independent evaluation by the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation (GMRF) indicated that veterans experienced positive outcomes after participating in the program, particularly if combined with clinical therapies.

Survive to Thrive founder and former infantry soldier Dane Christison said he had developed the program after suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) himself.

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“I began clinical treatment, but I found the courses and programs were tailored for civilians; they didn’t answer the questions I had,” Mr Christison said.
“It wasn’t until I stopped blaming everyone else and took back the power for my own recovery that I began to see how I could move forward.
“Survive to Thrive teaches participants to accept their situation but not tolerate it. We give them the training structure and tools to allow them to take control of their own recovery and boost their wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem.”

Former Army bomb disposal technician Corey Stamp said Survive to Thrive had made a big difference in his life since he discharged two years ago.
“It was what I needed when I got out,” Mr Stamp said.
“I had a breakdown after my first tour of Afghanistan in 2010 but I wanted to go back so I just suppressed everything I was feeling.
“To a certain extent, Defence provides a safety blanket – losing that, combined with losing the routine and all my mates was a real shock to the system.
“Survive to Thrive gave me back the structure that I was missing from Defence, as well as giving me the strength to take ownership of what I was going through and to stop playing the victim,” he said.

Mr Denner said through the pilot program, RSL would provide licences to eligible veterans who might not otherwise be able to afford the program.
“Veterans will get ongoing 24/7 access to the Survive to Thrive portal, including eight coaching modules and an online support group where participants encourage, inspire and motivate each other.”
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Veterans interested in the program should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.survivetothrivenation.com/contact-us

DVA - Accessing mental health support, abuse compensation made simpler

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Advice From DVA that can be used as an Information article for distribution to our Defence Family.

Are you struggling to cope because of something that happened to you in the Australian Defence Force (ADF)?

All current and former members of the ADF who have at least one day continuous full-time service, including Reservists, are able to access treatment for any mental health condition. The condition does not have to be related to ADF service and a diagnosis is not required.

To access treatment, call 1800 555 254 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service also provides the veteran community and their families with specialist free counselling and group programs.

This service is available at all times by phoning 1800 011 046, or via its website at www.vvcs.gov.au.

If your condition relates to having been sexually or physically abused while serving, DVA has introduced measures that may make it simpler for you to access compensation and to receive the mental health support you need.

DVA has broadened the use of statutory declarations as part of abuse compensation claims, making it possible for such a declaration to constitute sufficient evidence to establish that abuse took place, in some instances.

For example, if you were abused before 11 April 2011 and you were a child at the time, a statutory declaration alone will now be sufficient to establish that an abuse event occurred (provided that there is no contradictory evidence).

Please note, however, that if you were an adult at the time of the abuse, or the abuse took place after 11 April 2011, supporting evidence will also be required in addition to a statutory declaration. A statutory declaration in these instances will be taken as strong evidence in favour of the claim.

Claims will be determined on the basis of all available evidence.

These changes make it easier to prove that abuse occurred, if it was not reported at the time. This change will benefit those who may not have reported abuse at the time it occurred or may never have previously spoken about it.

DVA has established dedicated teams to manage all new claims relating to sexual and physical abuse, ensuring that all claims are managed with sensitivity and discretion.

REMEMBERING KOKODA 75 YEARS ON

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30 October 2017

TehanDan
On the 2 November 75 years ago, Australian soldiers retook the village of Kokoda in Papua New Guinea.

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Between July and November 1942, Australian forces fought the numerically stronger Japanese in abysmal conditions along the Kokoda Track, sustaining more than 600 dead and more than 1,600 wounded or struck down by illness or disease.

The Australians forced the Japanese into retreat, culminating in battles at the Beachheads which came at an enormous cost — more than 1,200 Australian lives lost and more than 2,000 wounded.

Today, I ask all Australians to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of these great Australians and of all those who served on the Kokoda Track and at the Beachheads during the Second World War.

We also remember the estimated 50,000 Papuan civilians who provided supplies to Australian soldiers and evacuated our sick and wounded.

Lest we forget.

Mefloquine – Two Decades of Damage

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The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has used the controversial anti-malarial drugs mefloquine and tafenoquine for more than two decades, despite scientific evidence linking them to brain damage and poor mental health.

In spite of the drug manufacturers clear warnings of risk, many service men and women were carelessly given these drugs in poorly conducted drug trials. Many now suffer from serious, chronic illnesses affecting their nervous system and mental health.

The majority of those who have sought medical help have been diagnosed and medicated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental illnesses without having been referred to brain injury specialists.

This has led to further decline in health, disabling drug reactions, medical mistreatment, family breakdowns, homelessness and in some cases suicide.

QVFA 15The Quinoline Veterans and Families Association (QVFA) was established by veterans and their families to support those whose lives have been affected by the disabling side effects of these toxic drugs.

This grassroots veteran community group has been striving to raise awareness about this issue and seeking dedicated support for affected veterans and their families.

QVFA does not receive any financial assistance or funding from any government or other veterans charities.

It is now seeking donations from the community to fund world leading research into the toxic effects of these drugs, and to establish a dedicated rehabilitation program for the affected veterans and their families.

We urgently need your help before we lose more veterans to family breakdowns, homelessness and suicide.

ADSO endorses the QVFA’s campaign and encourages everyone to support it with donations to their appeal and representation of the issue to your local Federal and State MPs.

Remember, approximately 5,000 ADF personnel have been given mefloquine or tafenoquine, the majority (just under 3,000) in a series of drug trials conducted by the Army Malarial Institute (AMI) in Bougainville and East Timor from 1998 to 2002.

Hugh Rimmington from Channel 10 News has produced a very good overview introducing the issues surrounding Quinoline to the Australian public which you can view here.

Tehan Media Release - $31 million in additional funding for veteran mental health

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24 October 2017

The Government will provide an additional $31 million to support veterans’ mental health as part of its response to the Senate Inquiry into veterans’ suicide.

As the Prime Minister has said, we best honour the diggers of 1917 by ensuring our veterans in 2017 receive the support they need and deserve. When someone stops serving their country it is their country’s turn to start serving them.

The Turnbull Government has made veterans mental health a priority. An additional $58.6 million in mental health funding was provided in this year’s Budget.

Today, the Turnbull Government commits an additional $31 million to support veterans as part of its response to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Reference’s committee report The Constant Battle: Suicide by veterans.

The Government will provide:

• $16.1 million over four years for a new Veteran Payment for financial vulnerable veterans claiming mental health conditions;

• $7.1 million over four years to extend support for families of veterans;

• $2.1 million over four years for an annual health assessment for ex-serving ADF members for the first five years post-discharge;

• $4.0 million over two years to pilot a case management service for transitioning or recently discharged ADF members;

• $1.7 million over two years to undertake a scoping study to professionalise veterans’ advocacy.

The Government has agreed to 22 of the 24 recommendations made in the Senate committee report and agreed-in-principle to the remaining two recommendations.

The Government has asked the Productivity Commission and the Australian National Audit Office to conduct reviews into the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). These independent reviews will inform further improvements to DVA processes.

Other recommendations the Government has agreed to complement work already undertaken by the Government to further support veterans, such as:

• The $166.6 million investment in the veteran centric reform program announced in this year’s budget;

• The Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program launched in November last year;

• The Government’s response to the National Mental Health Commission Review into the Suicide and Self Harm Prevention Services released in June 2017;

• The ongoing Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports into the incidence of suicide among serving and ex-serving ADF personnel.

The Government is continuing to focus on improving the mental health services provided to our veterans. Mental health treatment works best when a veteran can get help early so the Government has made the treatment of any mental health condition free for anyone who has served one day in the fulltime ADF. The Government will now provide a DVA White Card to access mental health treatment through this program to all personnel leaving the military.

The Government would like to thank the members of the committee for their substantial work to complete this report and for their passion for improving mental health outcomes for veterans.

 

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

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