Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley today launched the key findings of the Middle East Area of Operations Census and Prospective Health Studies.
These studies are part of the Military Health Outcomes Program (MilHOP), a significant body of research commenced in 2010 to determine the impact of operational deployment on the health and wellbeing of our service men and women.
Minister for Defence Science and Personnel and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Warren Snowdon said the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs are better prepared today to help those who develop mental health concerns than during any other conflict in history.
“Defence and Veterans’ Affairs have been working closely together to improve their practices to ensure ADF personnel receive the care and support they require and that the transition from Defence to Department of Veterans’ Affairs is a smooth one.
“The health of our service men and women, and particularly their mental health, remains a priority for the Government,” Mr Snowdon said.
More than 14,000 veterans volunteered to participate in the Census Health Study which collected data from ADF personnel who had deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations between October 2001 and December 2009.
The Census Health Study included questionnaires related to deployment history, health and experiences on deployment.
The Prospective Study was also voluntary and collected data on personnel prior to deployment and again after returning home. This included ADF members who deployed to the MEAO after June 2010 and returned from deployment in June 2012.
The Prospective Study examined life experiences, lifetime trauma exposure and information on previous military service. A sub-set of primarily combat personnel also participated in physical tests and neurocognitive assessments.
General Hurley said Defence has been helping people to deal with the mental health effects of operational service for a number of years and we will continue to do so when the majority of ADF personnel redeploy from Afghanistan later this year.
"The studies showed that ADF members who have deployed on operations in the Middle East are generally healthy, both physically and mentally.
"The results of these studies will further inform policy and targeted health programs designed to support Australian Defence Force members and their families.
"Ensuring the most effective preventative measures and best quality treatment and rehabilitation for our ADF personnel remains our highest priority.
"We must continually assess and reassess our policy and programs to guarantee we remain a world leader in this field and we must continue our work to break down the stigma associated with mental health issues," General Hurley said.
Vision of the launch and round table will be available from Parliament House.
Transcripts will be available at: http://news.defence.gov.au/category/transcript/
Copies of the studies are available at: http://www.defence.gov.au/health/home/i-MilHOP_Message.htm
Minister Snowdon's office: Marcus Butler (02) 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999