16 Mar 2008

The National President of the Australian Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Veterans’ Association (APPVA), Paul Copeland, welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel the Hon Warren Snowdon MP, that Defence is to launch a review into the mental health of Defence personnel.

The APPVA is an organisation that is focused on the issues of Younger Veterans, current and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force, in addition to Police Overseas Veterans.

The APPVA strongly supports the mental health review within the ADF and would like to see that people with Mental health problems and/or illness be given adequate treatment and rehabilitation over a 3-year period, inclusive of any retraining, vocational training, retention and resettlement.

The APPVA supports the Canadian Defense Force Model of retention for at least 3-years with every opportunity to heal. Past experiences have demonstrated that the ADF has not been accommodating with the treatment of these people. Career managers appear to be constrained by maintaining a fit Defence Force, rather than consideration toward rehabilitation, retention or final stabilisation of the ADF member prior to Medical Discharge.

The APPVA supports the Federal Government concerns that service men and women are not receiving adequate mental health support which has prompted a review into Defence health services. Whilst it is acknowledged by the APPVA that the ADF has a Mental Health Strategy and ADF Rehabilitation Policy in place, it would appear that the Policy is not reaching the unit or sub-unit levels, including career managers. “Many members of the ADF are hiding their symptoms from their mates and are possibly seeking outside treatment, so that they are able to keep their job”, Mr Copeland said.

It has been the experience of the APPVA that ex-serving young veterans suffer traumatic problems long after leaving the ADF, due to either the latency of the clinical onset of mental illness, or from unchecked and preventative intervention strategies, whilst in the service. The APPVA would like to consult with the Government over these experiences in some detail and provide case studies and proposed solutions.

”It is clear that the current system, with the apparent lack of resources to ensure adequate care to current serving ADF members, needs to be improved.” Mr Copeland said. “There is a requirement for special attention to these ADF members who have so willingly served their country and have suffered as a result of this service. The Government owes it to these men and women of the ADF to ensure that they are provided every opportunity for recovery and retained for service.”

The APPVA provides free entitlement and welfare advice and support, including veteran’s claims, case management and Advocacy service for current serving and ex-serving Defence and Police Overseas members and their families.

Point of Contact:

Wayne McInnes
APPVA National Secretary
0408 307 422