Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester says the largest study undertaken to examine the impact of military service on members and ex-members’ wellbeing has affirmed the federal government’s focus on assisting veterans to transition into civilian life.
The first stages of research examining the health and wellbeing of Australian Defence Force personnel during service and following their transition back into civilian life were released today by Mr Chester.
He said the Mental Health Prevalence and Pathways to Care reports were the first reports under the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme, which was the most comprehensive study undertaken in Australia of the effect of military service on the mental, physical and social health of serving and ex-serving ADF personnel.
“In a nutshell, the research is confirming that we are heading in the right direction but more needs to be done to assist veterans and their families during the critical transition period to civilian life,” Mr Chester said.
“Transitioning from the ADF into civilian life can be a daunting and challenging experience, which is why it is so important to understand what the issues are so we can ensure our current personnel and those transitioning out of the ADF are fully supported.
“There is a growing level of mental health awareness and greater willingness to seek care amongst both current serving and transitioned ADF members and I commend anyone who seeks help for mental health.
“We are constantly striving to deliver the support and services needed for those who have served our nation.
“The research indicates that our efforts to encourage personnel to seek help early, no matter the cause, is having an effect.”
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Mr Chester said the federal government had made major investments in upgrading the Department of Veterans’ Affairs antiquated IT systems to meet veterans’ needs.
“We are putting veterans and their families first,” Mr Chester said.
“The government has made a significant investment to improve provision of, and access to, mental health care, transition support and future employment assistance programs for current and ex-serving ADF members and their families.
“Providing free treatment for any mental health condition to all those who have served at least one day in full-time ADF service is just one of the key government initiatives already in place to address these issues.
“My message to all those who have served and those serving now is that if you need mental health support, no matter the cause, please seek it as soon as possible – it is never too late to seek help.
“These first two reports strengthen the evidence base for the programs the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs already conduct, and we will continue to use the research to improve our programs available to current and ex-serving ADF personnel.”
The Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme is jointly funded by the Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
The research was led by the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies at the University of Adelaide, which was partnered for the Pathways to Care report by Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health.
A further six reports will be released throughout 2018 and 2019.
Further information on the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme, including the first two reports, is available on DVA’s website.