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14 SPECIAL REPORT
Army September 15, 2011
By Graham McBean
AS THE tempo of operations con-
tinues, there has been an increasing
focus on making sure that health-
care intervention is getting to the
people who need it when they
More than 34,000 Australian mili-
tary personnel have deployed to the
MEAO alone -- many on multiple
occasions -- since 2003.
The release in 2009 of the Dunt
Review into mental health in the ADF
has led to reforms that will provide
the ADF with one of the largest work-
place mental health support systems in
Mental health issues "are life-
changing events". However, members'
worries about their job and the stig-
ma of mental illness are the primary
obstacles to seeking help, according
to Commander Joint Health Services
Maj-Gen Paul Alexander.
"The biggest challenge is still to
ensure that people understand we will
look after them," Maj-Gen Alexander
"Even as recent as 12 or 18 months
ago, if someone had a complex mental
health problem the policy was that if
an individual was not fit for opera-
tional service or to deploy within 12
months then theoretically they were
unfit to continue in service.
"Now that policy has been com-
"We understand and recognise the
complexity of mental health recov-
ery and the fact that it may take
many years, and the fact that we have
a responsibility and a duty of care,
and that the best place to have people
recover is inside our organisation."
He says the priority is to ensure
recommendations from the Dunt
Review continue to be translated into
service delivery, policy research, edu-
cation and training.
The review was a major turning
point in ADF mental health treatment.
Then CDF ACM Angus Houston
immediately committed the ADF to 49
of Professor David Dunt's 52 recom-
Now, halfway through an $82m
four-year program, many of those rec-
ommendations are either in place or
planned for completion by December
While Professor Dunt compared
the ADF commitment to mental
health favourably to other countries,
too much depended "on the enthusi-
asm and commitment of ADF regional
mental health providers".
In response, the ADF mental health
workforce has been increased by more
than 50 per cent. Another 24 positions
will be added over the next 18 months.
These new positions will staff eight
new Regional Mental Health Teams
(RMHT) comprising a coordinator and
Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs
coordinator. Clinical psychologists
have also been recruited for three of
On a local level, Psychology
Support Sections have been inte-
grated with other local mental health
professionals to form multi-discipli-
nary Mental Health and Psychology
This includes assessment and treat-
ment for conditions such as depres-
sion, anxiety, stress, trauma, relation-
ship problems, grief and loss, work
conflicts and career counselling.
In addition, the creation of the ADF
Centre for Mental Health will provide
Defence with a facility to research
best-practice mental health interven-
tion programs and to support and train
ADF health providers.
By the end of 2013, Maj-Gen
Alexander wants the initiatives estab-
lished from Dunt to be embedded as
"business as usual".
Making sure this happens is the
job of David Morton, appointed
in February 2010 to lead reform as
Director General of the ADF's newly
created Mental Health, Psychology
and Rehabilitation branch.
Mr Morton says the next mile-
stone will be the critical analysis of
the recently completed Military Health
Outcomes Program (Milhop) survey,
which is expected in the near future.
The ADF has engaged an adviso-
ry panel of leading experts on mental
health from around the country and
external to Defence to analyse the data
and look at the suitability of the ADF
Mr Morton says the information
will give the ADF a thorough under-
standing of the rates of mental health
issues and the major problems people
Importantly, the data will also help
the ADF understand the barriers to
accessing health care and how treat-
ment can be improved.
"We are very conscious that as we
get mental health providers out there
that we integrate the mental health and
other health services into a more com-
prehensive health service and make it
easier for people to access those ser-
vices," Mr Morton says.
With this "final piece of the jig-
saw", the ADF will be able to augment
existing programs with best-practice
outcomes designed to reshape ADF
mental health care.
Mr Morton says an evidence-based
program that includes awareness, resil-
ience and treatment interventions will
meet the complete needs of the ADF.
"Add on to that the rehabilitation
and recovery and what you have got is
a continuity of services," he said.
"Together that provides a compre-
hensive program that we are strength-
ening and that is what Dunt was really
New approach to managing
Help with mental health issues is just a
chat away. ADF members can access
mental health care by talking with their
CO or supervisor, presenting to the health
facility on their base, contacting their local
Mental Health and Psychology Section or
by calling the All Hours Support Line on
1800 628 036, which offers 24/7 access
to crisis counselling and referral for treat-
ment and support.
SUPPORT IS ONLY A PHONE CALL AWAY
Get help: Don't
be afraid to pick
up the phone.
MENTAL HEALTH TEAMS AUSTRALIA WIDE
Eight Regional Mental Health
Teams have been established at
the local level.
The teams are multi-disciplinary
and usually include a chaplain,
social worker, psychologist medical
officer and psychiatrist.
Regional teams are located at:
Western Australia: Leeuwin
Clinic, Building 18; Leeuwin
Barracks, WA, (08) 9311 2763
Northern Territory: Building
260, Defence Establishment
Berrimah, Winnelli NT,
(08) 8935 4256
South Australia: Building
308, RAAF Base Edinburgh,
Edinburgh SA, (08) 7339 3695
Northern New South Wales:
Level 17, 270 Pitt Street, Sydney,
NSW, (02) 9393 2995
North Queensland: Lavarack
Health Centre, Building 675,
Lavarack Barracks Townsville,
(07) 4411 2120
South Queensland: Room
G20, 1st Floor, Building G16,
Lloyd Street, Gallipoli Barracks,
Enoggera Qld, (07) 3332 2466
Southern New South Wales:
Duntroon Health Centre, RMC,
Morshead Drive, Duntroon ACT
2600, (02) 6265 9754
Victoria/Tasmania: Level 1, M
Block, 256-310 St Kilda Road,
Melbourne Vic 3006,
(03) 9282 4844
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