Operation Comapss | #CheckYourMates

https://www.opcompass.org.au/

CONNECT to others

Make the time to meet with mates, especially those you haven’t seen in a while. Connecting can be a simple as a phone call, fishing, a game of golf, morning tea, or a meal together. “Let’s catch up for a coffee or beer!” “Let’s catch up for a coffee or beer!

YARN to listen

Start the conversation to allow mates to open up about how they’ve been travelling – the key is to listen and not judge. The best way to start this process is a simple “How have you been?”

MOTIVATE to act

The last step is in some respects the most important, encouraging action and offering support to any mate you think might need it. This step can include connecting your mates with professional services.

‘Disheartening’: Veterans ‘let down’ by inquiry into anti-malarial drug trials

Veterans are disheartened by a Senate inquiry into anti-malarial drug trials they say have left them with debilitating symptoms for nearly 20 years.

Australian Defence Force personnel took quinoline drugs mefloquine and tafenoquine while deployed to Timor-Leste and Bougainville in Papua New Guinea between 1999 and 2002.

A Senate inquiry this year heard from veterans who have since suffered a range of symptoms including memory loss, vertigo, migraines, vivid nightmares, hearing and vision loss, irritable bowel syndrome, aggression and suicidal thoughts.

Most have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder but believe they actually have acquired brain injuries from toxicity and need rehabilitation.

They struggle to access the help they want from the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) because it doesn’t match their diagnoses.

The Senate committee accepted their symptoms were genuine in its report tabled this week, but made no findings on the causes of the health issues.

“We’re basically back to square one again,” Colin Brock, who was deployed to Timor-Leste in 2000 and served for 20 years, told The New Daily on Wednesday.

“It’s pretty disheartening.

“The government has looked like they’re doing something but it has actually, I believe, been a whole waste of time.”

An internal inquiry into the mefloquine trial by the ADF Inspector-General in 2016 found it was carried out ethically and in accordance with national guidelines.

The Repatriation Medical Authority found there was insufficient evidence that exposure to the drugs causes acquired brain injury, a finding supported by a September review by the Specialist Medical Review Council.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

PM’s Media Release – Recognising and Respecting our Veterans

Veterans and their families are at the centre of a fresh package of initiatives from our Government to recognise their vital role and service to Australia.
We understand the home front is just as important as the front line.
Our Government will develop an Australian Veterans’ Covenant that will be enacted in legislation so the nation can recognise the unique nature of military service and support veterans and their families.
Like the United Kingdom Armed Forces Covenant, the Australian Veterans’ Covenant is for the Australian community to recognise the service and sacrifice of the men and women who commit to defend the nation, and pledge their commitment to support veterans and their families.
As part of this Veterans’ Covenant, a new Australian Veterans’ Card and an Australian Veterans’ Lapel Pin will make it easier for all Australians to recognise and respect the unique contribution that veterans have made to Australia and for our veterans to reconnect with others who have served.
As we have seen throughout the Invictus Games and in the lead up to the Centenary of Armistice, Australians want to acknowledge and show respect for our veterans who have given so much in their service.
Businesses, government and community organisations can also play their part in recognising and respecting those who have served. The card and the pin can help these organisations identify veterans when they aren’t wearing their uniform or medals, so they can offer discounts and extra support.
The new Card and Lapel Pin will for the first time enable everyone across the nation to recognise and acknowledge the unique nature of military service and support the more than 300,000 veterans in Australia and their families.

The Prime Minister will be writing to businesses and communities to urge them to recognise the service of our veterans.
In addition to the record $11.2 billion annual support our government delivers for veterans and their families, we will invest $11.1 million in these measures to deliver a national approach to recognise veterans and will further consult defence and veterans communities in coming weeks.
We will also deliver $6.7 million to develop the SoldierOn Fussell House accommodation facility to be co-located at the Concord Repatriation Hospital in Sydney that the NSW Berejiklian Government is investing more than $340 million to rebuild. This includes the National Centre for Veterans Health – an Australian first, state of the art centre for specialised health care for veterans.
Named for Lieutenant Michael Fussell who was serving with the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan when he was killed in action by an Improvised Explosive Device detonation, the facility will house up to 40 veterans and their families at a time and will especially benefit those from regional and rural areas when veterans are getting treatment.
Our Government will also invest $7.6 million for the Kookaburra Kids Defence Program to boost their targeted support to children of ex-serving defence force members who are experiencing mental health issues due to their service.
The Kookaburra Kids Defence Program was first supported by our government with a $2.1 million injection in a pilot program in NSW, the ACT, Queensland and the NT for 569 children, and this extra investment will see the program expand into Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia for 1,750 children.
As a country we can always do more to recognise and back in our veterans. Our government is committed to setting Australia up to support the veterans of today and tomorrow.

THE HON SCOTT MORRISON MP, PRIME MINISTER
THE HON DARREN CHESTER MP, MINISTER FOR VETERANS’ AFFAIRS; MINISTER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL; MINISTER ASSISTING THE PRIME MINISTER FOR THE CENTENARY OF ANZAC
JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT
Saturday, 27 October 2018

Carer Allowance – Important Information

Are you a carer? Have you received a request from Centrelink asking for details of your income? From 20 September 2018, the Government introduced an income test for Carer Allowance, which is paid by the Department of Human Services (DHS) through Centrelink. As a result, recipients of this payment must now have an income under the income test limit (currently $250,000 for individuals and couples).

Recipients of DVA income support payments, such as the Service Pension, Veteran Payment and Age Pension, will automatically meet the new income test requirements. However, DHS has advised that it has already issued letters to Carer Allowance recipients, some of whom may be DVA income support recipients, requesting they complete the Carer Allowance adjusted taxable income details form.

If you have received a letter requesting your income details and would like more information, or an extension of time to respond, you can contact Centrelink’s Carers Line or the new Carer Gateway.

Centerlink Carers Line: 132 717
Website: Carer Gateway

DVA is working with DHS to address veteran community concerns as a matter of urgency.

THE VETERAN FAMILY TOOLKIT SERIES

THE BOLTON CLARKE GROUP, INCLUDING ALTURA LEARNING AND THE BOLTON CLARKE RESEARCH INSTITUTE PRESENT – THE VETERAN FAMILY TOOLKIT SERIES

This series of videos aims to inform and educate current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), and importantly families and friends, about mental health. These videos cover post-traumatic mental health, avenues to treatment, and how to best support yourself and your loved one. The videos are designed to break down the stigma around seeking help, and include input from veterans, families, and experts in the field.

Veterans and their families share personal stories in this confronting but hopeful educational video series. The Veteran Family Toolkit explores mental health conditions experienced by returned service people, with an emphasis on PTSD. The aim is to let all Veterans and their families know that they are not alone and help is available.

Pat McIntosh, AM, CSC, Chairman of Bolton Clarke introduces the videos which can be seen in full on this link.

WHY THIS SERIES?

The video series emanated from a research project conducted by the Bolton Clarke Research Institute. The team aimed to explore the experience of veterans and their families, and identify gaps in health and social care for current and ex-serving ADF members and their families. Through focus groups and interviews*, a number of key areas of interest were apparent, including :

  • the difficulties faced during transition out of the Defence Force
  • mental health needs across different groups of veterans
  • challenges faced in seeking help for mental health conditions
  • impact of service and mental health conditions on family members, and
  • the need to support partners, children and parents, of veterans.

 *held in Townsville and Brisbane with 88 current and ex-serving ADF members, their families, and members of ex-service organisations,

The main gap identified concerns the support and services provided to families of serving and ex-serving members of the ADF. Family members expressed feeling excluded, left behind, and ignored, with services and support provided primarily at crisis point, if at all. These findings provided the impetus to create the Veteran Family Toolkit as an avenue for trusted information about mental health, and to provide hope that recovery is possible.

EPISODES :

Episode 1 : The Veteran Perspective
Episode 2: What is Mental Health?
Episode 3: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Episode 4: The Family Perspective
Episode 5:  Getting Help & PTSD Treatments

Chester Media Release – Accessible mental health support for veterans

THE Government today acknowledged the release of two reports from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) — the 2018 update on the Causes of death among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel: 2002–2015, and the National suicide monitoring of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.
download 16Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the latest findings show those who choose to serve in the ADF are, on average, healthier than the general community. However, the findings also highlight the need to support the mental health of veterans, particularly those under 30.
“Our Government is putting veterans and their families first,” Mr Chester said.
“We are committed to supporting the physical and mental health of veterans and these reports provide a valuable contribution to our understanding of veterans’ health.
“We have taken significant steps in recent years to increase mental health support to our veterans, and our priority now is to enhance support to veterans during their transition period.
“Our Government provides more than $11.2 billion each year to deliver services and programs to support 290,000 veterans and their families, with $200 million spent on mental health alone.”

Eligible transitioning ADF members now automatically receive a DVA Health Card – Specific Conditions (White Card), which can be used to access treatment for any mental health condition, regardless of whether or not it is related to their service.
“This builds on the 2018–19 Budget measure, which expanded mental health treatment to eligible current and former Reservists without the need to link this condition to their service,” Mr Chester said.
“ADF personnel who receive a White Card for mental health treatment will not be required to make a claim with DVA to get treatment for mental health conditions—they can simply use their card to access treatment.”

women veterans anzac day 255661 1524533230888 main.640x0cADF veteran, Kellie Dadds who has been deployed eight times says the support will be valuable.
“This initiative will be welcomed by veterans who are transitioning from the ADF as it is another step easing the transition process. Knowing this support is available when required is pleasing and will ensure that veterans get treatment early should they need it,” Ms Dadds said.

Current and former ADF members transitioning to civilian life also have access to a comprehensive one-off health assessment with their general practitioner (GP).
“From 1 July 2019, all those leaving the ADF will be able to access an annual comprehensive health assessment by a GP for the first five years after they discharge,” Mr Chester said.
“This is a $2.1 million commitment from government and will assist in the early detection and treatment of mental and physical health concerns during transition to civilian life, addressing a high risk period for the emergence of mental health conditions and suicide.”

Mental health treatment provided through a White Card can include: consultations with a GP; psychiatrist; psychologist; mental health social worker or mental health occupational therapist; specialist PTSD programs; subsidised pharmaceuticals required to treat a condition, and hospital treatment. Health assessments can be accessed with a Medicare card.

Former ADF members who have already transitioned to civilian life can still access DVA funded treatment for any mental health condition through the use of a White Card by emailing the Department at [email protected]or calling 1800 555 254.
Eligible transitioning ADF members will receive their White Cards in the mail.

21 September 2018

Nutrition Key Theme for Veterans’ Health Week 2018

NUTRITION is the theme of the over 140 events and activities being held during Veterans’ Health Week 2018, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester MP said today.

“Proper nutrition is vital for all of us to lead healthier lives. We know that good nutrition leads to improved health and wellbeing, which plays a major role in helping veterans achieve better lifestyle outcomes. When we eat better, we feel better and we are much healthier and happier,” Mr Chester said.

“Veterans’ Health Week, which starts today, is a fantastic opportunity for the public to support and attend the many different events and activities all over the country to positively engage with veterans and their families to promote the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle.

“There are over 140 fun, interactive and educational events scheduled across the country this year such as the Sunshine Coast RSL’s cooking masterclass with celebrity chef Matt Golinski, the Darwin RSL’s tri-service long table cook-off, and the Vietnam Veterans’ Association’s Nutrition Expo in Melbourne.

”Other events include the Salisbury RSL in Adelaide’s veterans two-course cooking competition, the Armadale RSL in Western Australia’s ‘How to eat cheaper but better’ cooking expo, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Sydney office’s ‘Bike N Blend’ pedal-powered healthy smoothie making event.”

In addition, DVA’s National Dietetic Adviser – Assistant Professor Tara Diversi, has created a series of nutritious, healthy, delicious and easy to make recipes to help veterans, their families and everyone else enjoy the benefits of healthy eating–available on DVA’s website and Facebook page.

“I urge everyone to get involved in Veterans’ Health Week events organised by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), Ex-Service organisations and community groups across the country to make the week a success.,” Mr Chester said.

“These events are all about assisting veterans and their families to live happy, healthy and active lives. The Government is committed to the ongoing care of those who have served our country and supporting Veterans’ Health Week is one of the ways we do this.”

Veterans’ Health Week runs from Saturday 22 September to Sunday 30 September 2018.

The full list of Veterans’ Health Week recipes, events and activities can be found on the DVA website: dva.gov.au/veterans-health-week

22 September 2018

Online Survey: DVA Rehabilitation Appliances

DVA is conducting a review of its rehabilitation appliance services.
Rehabilitation appliances assist DVA clients to minimise the impact of disabilities and enhance quality of life. They include a wide variety of items ranging from aids to help with mobility, to continence products, to home modifications that allow people with disabilities to remain living in their home. DVA provides rehabilitation appliances under the Rehabilitation Appliances Program (RAP) for eligible people, as well as under rehabilitation plans.

The aim of the Review is to ensure that DVA’s rehabilitation appliance services continue to be appropriate, effective and efficient in meeting the needs of the veteran community. It will also ensure the services are flexible and responsive in catering for the needs of all DVA clients, regardless of age.

If you have feedback you would like to share about your experiences with DVA aids and appliances, you can fill in the online survey here. The closing date for survey responses is 29 August 2018. Recommendations resulting from the Review are expected to be finalised by the end of 2018.

Kind regards
Amanda Green
Executive Assistant to Ms Leanne Cameron
Deputy Commissioner Queensland
Assistant Secretary Client Coordination and Support
Ph: 07 3223 8737 (#470737)
Fax: 07 3223 8304
[email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

‘It’s destroyed my life’: Hopes inquiry will back veterans’ claims anti-malaria drug caused illness

Veterans who believe their severe physical and mental health conditions were caused by anti-malaria medications given to them by the Army are hoping a senate inquiry will find enough evidence to back their claims.

Almost 20 years ago more than 3,000 troops were given the experimental drug tafenoquine, or the registered medication mefloquine, while on deployments in Timor-Leste and Bougainville.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) told 7.30 it has received anti-malarial-related claims from 42 veterans.

Mefloquine, which is also known by the brand name Lariam, has been shown to cause neuropsychiatric side effects and has been linked to two veteran suicides.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) and DVA recognises mefloquine can cause 14 conditions including depression, seizure, anxiety, schizophrenia and suicide.

Far fewer effects of tafenoquine are officially recognised.

In May, then-vice chief of the ADF, Ray Griggs, told a senate inquiry “its side-effects profile is much, much better than that of mefloquine”.

“There is no evidence that we know of that links it to neuropsychiatric conditions.”

‘It makes you feel real depressed’

10058256 3x2 340x227Speaking publicly for the first time, Army veteran Michael Bush told 7.30 about the severe impact he believes tafenoquine has had on his life after taking it in Timor-Leste.

The 40-year-old is unable to work after being diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, a form of schizophrenia and chronic gastrointestinal issues.

“For what they’ve done to my health … you can never buy that back, it’s destroyed my life,” he said.

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‘Help is available’

The Department of Defence declined 7.30’s interview request but said in a statement it was participating in the Senate inquiry and it would be inappropriate to comment while it was underway.

“It is important that public commentary on the issue is well-informed and reflects evidence-based research,” the statement said.

“This approach avoids misleading or adding to the anxiety of a broad group of people, including current and former serving ADF personnel and the general public who have used antimalarial treatments.

“These concerns have meant Defence has been careful and thorough in its response to claims made by individuals, so as to ensure outreach activities are underpinned by a sound public health approach.

“Most importantly, help is available to any current or former serving member or their family if they need support.”

DVA said it conducted a pilot outreach program for veterans in Townsville in 2016 and is considering further outreach activities.

RELATED STORYADF clears itself of wrongdoing over drug controversy

RELATED STORY: Defence force admits soldier shouldn’t have been included in anti-malaria drug trial

Invitation – Inquiry into ADF use of Mefloquine and Tafenoquine

On 19 June 2018 the Senate referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee a range of matters relating to the ADF use of Mefloquine and Tafenoquine for inquiry and report by 17 September 2018. 

The full terms of reference are to inquire with particular reference to:

(a) the current and past policies and practices for:
(i) prescribing Quinoline anti-malarial drugs to ADF personnel, and
(ii) identifying and reporting adverse drug reactions from Quinoline anti-malarial drugs among ADF personnel;

(b) the nature and extent of any adverse health effects of those who have taken Mefloquine/Tafenoquine on serving and former ADF personnel;

(c) the support available for partners, carers and families of personnel who experience any adverse health effects of Quinoline anti-malarial drugs;

(d) a comparison of international evidence/literature available on the impact of Quinoline anti-malarials;

(e) how other governments have responded to claims regarding Quinoline anti-malarials; and

(f) any other related matters.

The purpose of this letter of invitation is to draw your attention to the inquiry and to invite you or your organisation to make a written submission to the committee by 31 July 2018.

READ THE DETAILS