Launch of new online tool for transitioning ADF

Launch of new online tool for transitioning ADF gabrielle.seal Tue, 03/08/2021 - 11:21

Former Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO recently launched Go Beyond — a new online tool for transitioning Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.

Go Beyond is an evidence-informed program that is the result of six years research by the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation (GMRF) with funding provided by RSL Queensland. Its pilot program, completed last year, was conducted by Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling and the veterans’ charity Mates4Mates.

Go Beyond is available for free to all ex-serving members of the ADF from 24 May.

According to the GMRF, the six-year study called Service to Civilian Life was the first of its kind undertaken in Australia, and one of the largest studies examining military transition in the world. It involved interviewing 100 veterans, partners and health professionals to establish what were the main factors for a mentally healthy and successful transition.

Through this research, GMRF identified five key aspects of transition:

  • Purpose and connection
  • Help-seeking
  • Beliefs about civilians
  • Regimentation
  • Resentment and regrets.

These findings were validated by a quantitative survey involving 700 veterans.

Among Go Beyond’s distinguishing features is that it comprises two parts. The first is a five-minute online survey called Military-Civilian Adjustment and Reintegration Measure, or M-CARM. This quickly identifies how transitioning personnel are adjusting to civilian life. It also forms the basis of the Go Beyond’s second component: a tailored online training program, which comprises learning modules, research, worksheets, practical exercises and ways to move forward.

‘Go Beyond connects veterans with interactive online education modules that explain the factors impeding their adjustment,’ said RSL Queensland General Manager Veteran Services, Robert Skoda.

M-CARM and the modules themselves are also written very much with veterans in mind — using terminology they’re familiar with.

The GMRF is based at the Greenslopes Private Hospital in Brisbane — a repatriation hospital established to support veterans following the Second World War. Established 15 years ago, it supports current ex-serving ADF personnel through its research.

‘We are very proud of this research and its contribution to the improved transitions of military personnel,’ said GMRF’s CEO Miriam Dwyer. ‘We look forward to the positive impact this program will have.’

‘I cannot overstate the need for this tool,’ said Dr Andrew Khoo — GMRF’s psychiatric adviser, and a member of DVA’s Clinical Reference Group.

‘Open Arms is really keen to understand the transition experience,’ said Open Arms National Manager Dr Stephanie Hodson CSC. ‘And what we know from our clinicians is that people can actually really struggle. So when GMRF came to us to understand the transition experience, we jumped at the opportunity.’

‘In soldier-speak, when you’re in contact [with the enemy], you’re looking for a target indicator — where the bullets are coming from,’ said Tim Thomas, a former Commando who’s served in East Timor and Afghanistan. ‘Go Beyond was a perfect target indication for the perfect enemy — the stuff I didn’t know and the stuff I needed to know. I couldn’t get that anywhere else. It’s unique.’

‘The fact that the modules are personalised is very important,’ says Kerri-Ann Woodbury, a former nursing officer in the Army and now a healthcare academic. ‘Otherwise it could be very overwhelming for people who are struggling to be faced with half a dozen modules that aren’t necessarily relevant.’

The Foundation is in the early stages of developing a similar tool for personnel who are about to transition from the ADF.

Go Beyond is available online.

Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling is Australia’s leading national provider of high quality mental health assessment, clinical counselling and support services for Australian veterans and their families. If you or someone you know needs support, call Open Arms on 1800 011 046 — 24 hours a day, seven days a week or visit the Open Arms website.