Veterans’ program tackles transition into civilian life and social health

A research program at Flinders University will focus on the social health and well being of current ADF personnel and veterans to develop mental health approaches and clinical interventions which inform government policies and help service providers to deliver ground-breaking programs.

On 11 November 2020, Remembrance Day, the Open-Door Research Hub, as part of The Órama Institute For Mental Health & Wellbeing, is focusing on the needs of veterans returning to civilian life and their family in times of uncertainty, with many in dire need of unique support systems after traumatic personal experiences.

The newly formed research initiative will undertake research that addresses ADF veterans transition and the challenges many face in education, employment, housing, justice, family and community and health, with research being undertaken by international experts and collaborators in clinical trauma and PTSD research.

Associate Professor Ben Wadham in the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Ben Wadham in the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work says the initiative aims to become Australia and New Zealand’s dedicated research centre on veteran and families well being and social health, contributing research and policy recommendations to government, service providers, advocacy groups and the wider community. The work of Open Door also includes the health and well being of first responders including police and firefighters.

“In the past decade, there have been several significant policies, inquiries, and reports into the mental health of veterans in the ADF, and particularly after separation from the military. However, there has been little social research undertaken in Australia or New Zealand on broader transition and integration issues or the well being and social needs of veterans and their families so this initiative at Flinders University aims to change that.”

“The expert group will undertake research that addresses challenges when veterans transition across the critically important areas of education, employment, housing, justice, family and community, and health with our members having expertise in these areas, and with international collaborators in clinical trauma and research on PTSD.”

The research hub is multidisciplinary and includes:

  • key service provision challenges (claims, case work, crisis care)
  • key policy challenges (including institutional abuse, veteran suicide, or veterans in correction)
  • social, cultural, and historical research on Defence and Veterans Affairs legislation, policy and service provision
  • Cognitive psychological evidence and practice
  • new approaches for veterans with transition challenges, traumatic stress injuries and moral injury.

“We’ll cultivate research that is conducted and designed with the actual lived experiences of veterans, and therefore directly inform the significant life challenges veterans face when transitioning back into civilian life when they’re compromised by physical and mental health issues.”

“The veteran population is also rapidly changing with the number of women serving in the ADF and NZDF increasing 18% and 15% respectively since 2000 and these numbers continue to grow, so it’s important to understand the demographics when implementing policies which also need to address culturally diverse issues across ethnicity, gender and sexuality.”

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