A high priority research area lies in determining the health and wellbeing of Australian Defence Force members and veterans. Given the intensity of exposures and risks with current conflicts particularly Afghanistan, there is a challenging need to identify emerging adverse health trends to implement early intervention and future preventive strategies.
Recent highlights include our translational mental health research with vast numbers of Australian Defence Force personnel within the Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing Study (MHPWS) that surveyed 24,481 personnel and the Middle East Area of Operations Prospective Study that surveyed 1,324 personnel pre- and post-deployment.
The Transition & Wellbeing Research Programme
The Transition & Wellbeing Research Programme is the largest and most comprehensive programme of study undertaken in Australia to examine the impact of military service on the mental, physical and social health of serving and ex-serving personnel and their families, and builds on the previous Defence research such as the Military Health Outcomes Programme. For the first time, it includes a picture of mental disorders in the initial years after transition from full time service. It also investigates how individuals previously diagnosed with a mental disorder access care, how mental health issues change over time, the mental health status of reservists, as well as examining the experiences and needs of families of serving and ex-serving personnel. By understanding the impact of military service, deployment experiences and the associated health outcomes of serving and ex-serving personnel and their families, more effective policy and programmes can be developed and both departments will be able to better meet the needs of contemporary veterans.
Operation K9 is a joint program provided by the Returned Services League (RSL-SA) and the Royal Society for the Blind (RSB). Operation K9 dogs are provided to Veterans of the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) who have a diagnosed Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to operational service.
An Operation K9 dog is an accredited assistance dog that can provide benefits in terms of supporting independence and social interactions as well as a range of client specific tasks tailored to the veteran's needs.
Our research project aims to examine the longitudinal impact of the Operation K9 Assistance Dog Program on participants' health and wellbeing.
The Health and Wellbeing of Australian Servicewomen and Female Veterans
In collaboration with researchers both within UA and with other key Universities/experts across disciplines of medicine, psychiatry, psychology and sociology we are pursuing exciting and valuable work examining the experiences of women in the Australian Defence Force, and their specific health and wellbeing outcomes and needs. This work highlights the unique health needs of servicewomen and female veterans. Our flagship project in this research stream is the Mothers in the MEAO Study.
The Women in Services: Health and Wellbeing Forum
Held at The National Wine Centre on Monday February 17th, 2014, this national forum and strategy session was developed to set the agenda for research into the health and wellbeing of Australia's servicewomen (Defence and Veteran, Police and Emergency Services) over the coming decade. Hosted by The University of Adelaide's Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies and The Repat Foundation, the forum brought together key representatives from national and international government agencies and departments, academia and the community. For a snapshot of the forum, and links to key outcomes from the day click here.
This study investigates the wellbeing of Australian servicewomen with dependent children, and aims to identify the specific support mechanisms which are or would be useful to service mothers. Ultimately, this important body of work will assist both the Australian Defence Force and the Department of Veterans' Affairs to better support women within the services and the roles they undertake.