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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

MEDIA RELEASE

Thursday 4 April 2019

New research provides deeper look at serving and ex-serving community

THREE major reports from the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme were today released, providing the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), and the broader health community, a better understanding of the health concerns of current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies at the University of Adelaide has led the research programme, which investigates the impact of military service on the mental, physical and social health of serving and ex-serving ADF members and their families.

“The reports, Technology Use and Wellbeing, Mental Health Changes Over Time: a Longitudinal Perspective and Impact of Combat, each explored important aspects of serving and ex-serving members lives,” Mr Chester said.

“Overall, the reports confirmed that most ADF members and their families are healthy and manage transition from the military to civilian life well, but some find transition challenging.

“The reports tell us that 84 per cent of transitioned ADF personnel were engaged in some purposeful activity, with 62.8 per cent in civilian employment — which includes 5.5 per cent who had retired. And we know that only 5.2 per cent of the almost 25,000 individuals who left the ADF between 2010 and 2014 were unemployed.”

Mr Chester said the research also confirmed that more needs to be done to assist veterans and their families during the critical transition period to civilian life.

“The Government has invested in veterans and their families over successive Budgets, and as announced on Tuesday night, we have committed to a range of measures in the 2019-20 Budget,” Mr Chester said.

“This includes an additional $16.2 million in the 2019–20 Budget to support grants to not-for-profit organisations to deliver innovative programs to support veterans gain meaningful employment and $4.0 million to provide training to volunteers who work with veterans on mental health support and intervention.

“The Government is committed to putting veterans and their families first and will spend $11.5 billion this year to deliver the essential services and support they rely on.

“Importantly, since this data has been collected, the Government has funded the transformation and improvement of DVA, and increased support for mental health, transition and employment for current and former ADF members, veterans and their families.

“Defence and DVA will use the research to further develop targeted programs initiatives that benefit current and former ADF members, veterans and their families, as well as determine future research priorities.”

The $6 million Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme is jointly funded by Defence and DVA and is the most comprehensive study undertaken in Australia on the impact of military service on the mental, physical and social health of transitioned and current serving ADF members and their families.

Seven of the eight reports have now been released and are available on the DVA and the Defence websites, along with further information on the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme. The Government will release the final report, a summary of the previous seven reports, in the near future.

ENDS

About the reports:

The Technology Use and Wellbeing report is one of the first studies world-wide to investigate the use of the internet and new and emerging programs and technologies that support the wellbeing and mental health of serving and ex-serving military members.

It found that potential exists for the use of evidence-based new and emerging technologies that would help serving and ex-serving ADF members’ self-manage their wellbeing and mental health.

The Mental Health Changes Over Time: a Longitudinal Perspective report examines the shifts in mental health status over a five-year period (2010–2014) in ADF members who have transitioned out of full–time military service compared with ADF members who remain in military service.

Similar to other international military and veteran studies, the results from this report show that most people are in good mental health following discharge from active military service with some, particularly those who remain within the ADF, maintaining good health.

The Impact of Combat report examined the changes over time in the mental, physical and neurocognitive health and wellbeing of the of participants from the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) Prospective Health Study, who deployed to the MEAO between 2010 and 2012.

This report found that veterans generally experienced poorer mental health compared with those who remained within the ADF.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Rachel Tharratt: 02 6277 7820
Defence media: 02 6127 1999
DVA media: 02 6289 6466

Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au