Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme

Last updated: 
4 March 2020

Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme flowchart for the develoopment of the key findings.

The Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme (Programme) is the most comprehensive study undertaken in Australia that examines the impact of military service on the mental, physical and social health of:

  • serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) members including those who have been deployed in contemporary conflicts, and
  • their families.

The reports released to date are:

Mental Health Prevalence

Visit Mental Health Prevalence Report

Pathways to Care

Visit Pathways to Care Report

Physical Health Status

Visit Physical Health Status Report

Family Wellbeing Study

Visit Family Wellbeing Study

Technology Use and Wellbeing

Visit Technology and Wellbeing Report

Mental health Changes Over Time: a Longitudinal Perspective

Visit Mental health Changes Over Time: a Longitudinal Perspective Report

Impact of Combat

Visit Impact of Combat Report

Research approach

The Programme further extends and builds on the findings of the world-leading research conducted with current serving members of the ADF in the 2010 Military Health Outcomes Program (MilHOP).

Conducted in 2015, the research arises from the collaborative partnership between DVA and the Department of Defence. It aims to implement the Government's goal of ensuring that current and future policy, programs and services are responsive to the current and emerging health and wellbeing needs of serving and ex-serving ADF members and their families before, during and after transition from military life.

Through surveys and interviews, the researchers engaged with a range of DVA clients and ADF members including:

  • ADF members who transitioned from the Regular ADF between 2010 and 2014 (including Ex-Serving, Active and Inactive Reservists)
  • a random sample of Regular ADF members serving in 2015
  • a sample of Ab-initio Reservists serving in 2015 (who have never been full-time ADF members)
  • 2015 Regular ADF and Transitioned ADF members who participated in MilHOP
  • family members nominated by the above.

Ten objectives were developed to guide the Programme. The objectives are being realised through three studies comprising eight reports: the Mental Health and Wellbeing Transition Study (five reports and two papers), the Impact of Combat Study (one report), the Family Wellbeing Study (one report) and the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme Key Findings Report, which summarises the research, as the previous diagram shows. The following table shows which reports deliver on the objectives.

Programme objectives Corresponding reports and papers
  1. Determine the prevalence of mental disorders among ADF members who have transitioned from Regular ADF service between 2010 and 2014
  2. Examine self-reported mental health status of Transitioned ADF and the 2015 Regular ADF
Mental Health Prevalence Report
  1. Assess pathways to care for Transitioned ADF and the 2015 Regular ADF, including those with a probable 30-day mental disorder
Pathways to Care Report
  1. Examine the physical health status of Transitioned ADF and the 2015 Regular ADF
Physical Health Status Report
  1. Investigate technology and its utility for health and mental health programmes including implications for future health service delivery
Technology and Wellbeing Report
  1. Conduct predictive modelling of the trajectory of mental health symptoms/disorder of Transitioned ADF and the 2015 Regular ADF, removing the need to rely on estimated rates
Mental health Changes Over Time: a Longitudinal Perspective Report
  1. Investigate the mental health and wellbeing of currently serving 2015 Ab-initio Reservists
The Health and Wellbeing of ADF Reservists Paper
  1. Examine the factors that contribute to the wellbeing of Transitioned ADF and the 2015 Regular ADF
Psychosocial Predictors of Health Paper
  1. Follow up on the mental, physical and neurocognitive health and wellbeing of participants who deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations between 2010 and 2012
Impact of Combat Report
  1. Investigate the impact of ADF service on the health and wellbeing of the families of Transitioned ADF and the 2015 Regular ADF
Family Wellbeing Study
All objectives

Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme Key Findings Report

Research rigour

Two eminent Australian research institutions, one specialising in trauma and the other in families, are leading the research programme. The Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies at the University of Adelaide is conducting the Mental Health and Wellbeing Transition Study and the Impact of Combat Study, and the Australian Institute of Family Studies is conducting the Family and Wellbeing Study.

Their research expertise is enhanced through partner institutions from Monash University, the University of New South Wales, Phoenix Australia — Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health and the University of Sydney.


The Transition and Wellbeing Programme brings together internationally renowned researchers including:

  • Dr Miranda Van Hooff, Dr Ellie Lawrence-Wood, Prof Alexander McFarlane, Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies, University of Adelaide
  • Dr Stephanie Hodson, Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service, Department of Veterans' Affairs
  • Prof David Forbes, COL Nicole Sadler, Phoenix Australia, Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, University of Melbourne
  • Ms Helen Benassi, Mental Health, Rehabilitation and Psychology Branch, Joint Health Command, Department of Defence; PhD candidate, Australian National University
  • Dr Galina Daraganova, Dr Helena Romaniuk, Dr Jacquie Harvey, Dr Stewart Muir, Kelly Hand, Dr Diana Smart, Australian Institute of Family Studies
  • Prof Richard Bryant, University of New South Wales
  • Prof Helen Kelsall, Prof Malcolm Sim, Prof Jeffrey Rosenfeld, Monash University
  • Prof Jane Burns, University of Sydney.

Scientific Advisory Committee

An independent Scientific Advisory Committee made up of esteemed members with a specific interest in Defence and veteran mental health and specialising in managing statistical analysis oversees this research Programme. The members are:

RADM Jenny Firman (co-chair), Dr Ian Gardner (co-chair), Professor Ian Hickie, Professor Malcolm Battersby, Professor Peter Butterworth, Professor Lyndall Strazdins, Dr Paul Jelfs, Dr Duncan Wallace, GPCAPT Lisa Jackson Pulver, Professor Tim Driscoll, Professor Kathy Griffiths, Professor Beverley Raphael, Dr Graeme Killer.

The Programme communicates its key findings and progress to ex-service organisations through the Young Veterans — Contemporary Needs Forum.