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Rehab@DVA - Volume 3, Number 1 - February 2017

A word version of this provider newsletter is available: Volume 3 - No.1 - February 2017  (DOCX 730 KB)

Assistance Dogs

Articles about assistance dogs are often in the media, and many of these media stories have focused on the value of assistance dogs to people with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and PTSD. DVA acknowledges that dogs can make people feel better by lifting their mood and providing companionship. Dogs can help reduce stress and make it easier for people to get out into their local communities. There is a strong evidence base for the effectiveness of assistance dogs for people with sensory impairments such as hearing loss or loss of sight or mobility impairments due to conditions such as spinal or brain injuries.

However, there is no research based evidence about the effectiveness of assistance or companion dogs as part of treatment or as an aid to assist veterans with the management of mental health conditions. To address this evidence gap, the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs is conducting a study into the advisability of using assistance dogs for the treatment or rehabilitation of veterans with mental health conditions that are related to their service. The results of this study are expected in 2018. DVA will review its policies when the US study reports.

A labrador

Attribution by Thomas Casper (contact)

DVA utilises an evidence-based approach to treatment and rehabilitation. Therefore, until an evidence base exists, DVA will not provide funding for the purchase, training, transport or upkeep of dogs to assist with the treatment or management of mental health conditions including PTSD, anxiety or depression.  The provision of an assistance dog through the Rehabilitation Appliances Program (RAP) may be considered for veterans who have a DVA Health Card due to a war caused sensory or mobility impairment. Rehabilitation Service Providers can contact RAP by calling 1800 555 254.

Changes have been made to section 10.7.7 of the Rehabilitation Policy Library in CLIK to explain the new policy. These were highlighted in the January 2017 summary of CLIK updates.


Evidence Based Practice

Evidence Compass logoThe Evidence Compass is a repository for literature reviews on veteran health and wellbeing issues and can be used to quickly find and review research undertaken.  You may find this useful for clients presenting with complex and/or multiple conditions.

This resource is free and uses Rapid Evidence Assessment methodology.

You can search the Evidence Compass.

Free Professional Development Webinar

Mental Health and the Military Experience SeriesPromoting healthy sleep: common sleep disorders in veterans. Free PD webinar

The Mental Health Professionals’ Network, on behalf of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is producing a free webinar series to support practitioners to better respond to the mental health needs of veterans.

Register now to attend the third webinar in the series, Promoting Healthy Sleep: Recognising, Responding to and Treating Common Sleep Disorders in Veterans, on Tuesday 28 February from 7.15 – 8.30 pm AEDT. Attend this webinar and improve your ability to support veterans by increasing your knowledge of evidence-based psychological and medical treatments for sleep disorders. Details of the learning objectives and panellist are on the registration page.

No need to travel to benefit from this free PD opportunity. Simply register and log in on the night to participate from home, or anywhere you have a computer or tablet with a high speed internet connection.
Questions? Call MHPN on 1800 209 031 or email

Learn more and register now.

New Look High Res Resilience Website

We have listened to feedback from serving and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force and made exciting new changes to the High Res website. The site is now simpler, easier to use and packed with tools to help them build resilience and bounce back from stress.

High Res features a range of self-help tools that provide serving and ex-serving members with skills to enhance resilience and help cope with challenges during and after military service. The tools include Controlled Breathing, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Challenging Thoughts and Healthy Sleeping.

The updated website also contains a simple step by step guide to help serving and ex-serving members develop a personal resilience Action Plan. The Action Plan allows users to create goals to build resilience, schedule tools to help achieve these goals and track their progress over time. The High Res website is available on DVA’s website via the At Ease mental health portal.

The companion High Res app is free from the iOS App Store and Android Google Play.

If you have a topic that you would like to hear more about, then please let us know by emailing us at Rehab@DVA

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