The Trojan’s Trek Big Raffle

Here is your chance to gain a great prize and support a program which supports our veterans

1st prize. Travel for two on the “Sons of ANZAC” Battlefield Tour to Vietnam.

Total Value $8,000.

Donated by Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours with air travel provided by Singapore Airlines.

8 nights, 1-9 October.
2015 is the 50th anniversary of the deployment of the first Australian battle group to Vietnam. The prize is a special journey to Vietnam to tour the former battlefields and pay respects at a special commemorative service at Long Tan. Also on offer is an extension of the tour to visit the scenic and cultural sites of central and northern Vietnam.

2nd prize. Rank Arena 32″ LCD TV valued at $400. Compliments of Adelaide Exercise Physiology

3rd prize. $250 cash.

4th prize. Two packs of SA Parliament Select Wine valued at $100. Compliments of Michael Pengilly MLC

RAFFLE WILL BE DRAWN OCTOBER 26TH, 2014.

Tickets are $2 each. To buy tickets online, click here.

First ever all-female trek now open for applications

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 10.36.12 am

REPORT TO THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 4 JUNE 2014

Introduction
As Trojan’s Trek enters its sixth year of operations and completes the first since incorporation, it behoves me to highlight the key achievements since that day in 2008 when the concept of commencing a program catering for younger or contemporary veterans was floated.

Incorporation
The program was nationally incorporated in February 2013 as The Trojan’s Trek Foundation Limited. There are many advantages offered by incorporation not the least of which is the ability to apply for funding from various avenues which would not be otherwise available. The board currently comprises five directors and includes me as the company secretary and public officer. The treasurer is the other member of the administrative team but he is not a board member.

Activities
The Foundation has run one trek each year since and including 2009. The target is younger veterans and excludes other veterans. The reason for this is the facilitators have discovered that the programs outcomes are dependent to some degree on behaviour and life-style change which is much more difficult to achieve in old dogs. Having reported that, a number of Vietnam veterans have been included in past treks to their advantage. The ideal number of veterans for each trek is 12. Veterans from all three services have participated although Army make up 92% of participants.

To date, the treks have catered for male only participation but that will change this year with a pilot female version being run in parallel. This decision was made on the basis of equity combined with the awareness that stress illness is not gender biased. It is also a fact that women now fulfil many of the roles which only three years ago were male only. It would appear that this decision has been justified by subsequent female responses. Female fracilitators have been identified and will be trained prior to the 2014 trek deployment.

Staff
Currently ten staff members are used to run the program. Of these the three main facilitators are vital elements in maintaining consistent and effective delivery. Efforts continue with selection and identification of suitable staff to fulfil the succession plan. Two understudy facilitators will be assessed on the 2014 trek. All the staff from the chef to the general hands, from the cooks offsider to the drivers show initiative and are brilliant, compliant and compassionate.

Outcome Measurement
Since the commencement of the program in 09, the requirement to produce evidence based outcomes to justify expenditure and effort have been complied with. To that end on each trek, four standard psycho-social measuring instruments have been administered to every trekker on three occasions. These are; prior to commencement, immediately on conclusion and two to three months after completion. This provides the quantitative data for later analysis. In addition, personal journals are completed on a daily or more frequent basis progressively during the trek. These provide a good measure of qualitative gains, which are also important in the measurement of outcomes.

These results have been interpreted on two separate occasions. The first was done by the ACPMH following the first trek and a further study was concluded last year by UniSA. Of interest, the first set of results from ACPMH was inconclusive largely due to the inability of the contracted person to gather the completed instruments. Although in the interests of independent action this course is preferred, it did not collate the necessary responses to justify accurate findings. As a consequence the findings did not reflect the outcomes witnessed by the staff.

This was unfortunate and the ACPMH findings are sometimes quoted if a negative outcome is sought. The last Minister of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, adopted this stance. Since that experience all data collection has been accepted as a Trojan’s Trek staff responsibility. This has worked well with 97% of all forms and journals being collected.

The most recent study into the program outcomes was completed by UniSA in 2013. The results were released at the Australasian Military Medicine Conference in Dec 2013. The study established new bench marks for peer support programs of this nature, justifying our firm belief in the program value. The full report of both investigations is on the web site.

Longer Term Tracking
Although Trojan’s Trek is a circuit breaker with no formal follow-up process, UniSA have offered to conduct a long term follow-up of trekkers through one of their Honours student’s projects. The offer was accepted and that study was commenced in April. Efforts continue to involve other agencies in follow-up as reinforcement of the lessons learned will maximise outcomes. This year VVCS will be on hand when the trekkers return to Adelaide.

Affiliations
Trojans Trek has formed a partnership with the RSL in SA. This is seen as beneficial to both organisations. For Trojan’s Trek the involvement with an established brand is seen as a boost to status, and for the RSL, association with an organisation which is directly contributing to veteran’s welfare is a plus. Trojan’s Trek also retains good working relationships with a number of other companies and organisations. They are:

• RSL SA. Underwriters of the program
• Health SA. A major financial contributor until 2013
• Families and Communities SA. A major financial contributor
• RSL Care SA. A major financial contributor
• Adelaide Exercise Physiology. A major financial contributor
• Adelaide Rotary Club. A major on-going financial contributor
• Pioneer Tanks. Source of loan 4WD vehicles
• The Lion Hotel. Hosts information lunches at no cost
• Harvey Norman. Source of raffle prizes
• Battlefield Tours. Donor of the $8,000 raffle prize tour to SE Asia battle fields.
• RSL Sub Branches. Marion, Adelaide, Pinnaroo. Support for Sponsor a Trekker program
• Marryatville Primary School. Regular donations
• Generous Individuals and Corporations. Some have provided large donations

QLD Chapter
Approaches from sources in SE QLD to commence running the trek there have been received. The demand is present and providing the resources can be found in QLD the project appears feasible. Negotiations continue to identify a funding source in QLD. No detailed plan has yet been outlined apart from seeking to locate a suitable area for the trek.

Once that has been completed it is envisaged that the current staff would be involved in running the initial trek/s until it was determined that the QLD chapter could be accredited. The QLD chapter would then operate under the TT banner as a separate entity.

Financial Status
The foundation is in a sound financial position at the time of publication. Cash totals including the trading account and three term deposits was $142,000.00. The foundation conducted a fund raiser in Brisbane in March 2014 which raised $4,200.00. This will become an annual event. The SA operation will continue to be boosted by the Veterans’ Support Walk and major raffle which is run in October each year raising in the vicinity of $10,000.00.

Conclusion
The program is running well and provides valuable advice and assistance to veterans. The method of delivery is different and in many cases more effective than other means. The staff provide outstanding delivery and the results reflect that. Although the program does not provide follow-up support, most of the facilitators provide a welcome shoulder to the trekkers long after the trek has concluded. The female version to be run later this year will complete the suite of peer support to the veteran community in this form.

Moose Dunlop OAM

28 May 2014

SA RSL FORMS PARTNERSHIP WITH TROJAN’S TREK

The South Australian RSL today announced the forming of a partnership with Trojan’s Trek.

RSL CEO Sam Jackman said that RSL had decided that due to the excellent results which the program has achieved over the past 5 years in assisting young male veterans, the RSL had thrown their corporate weight behind the initiative.

In addition, she was pleased that the RSL was able to assist at a time of program expansion to include a parallel female program.

This is the second time this year the RSL has supported worthwhile local initiatives designed to assist contemporary veterans returning to life following combat deployments.

BRISBANE STOMP SUCCESS

Due to the efforts of, Mick Harding ex 6 RAR, (one of the 2013 trekkers) the Brisbane 2014 RAR Stomp for Support was held as a fund raiser for Trojan’s Trek.
Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 9.22.41 pm
The efforts of Mick and his wife Bec and some of the stalwarts of the National Memorial Walk crew AKA Dad’s Army, were rewarded by raising in excess of $ 4,000.00. A good crowd gathered for a short service in Anzac Square which preceded the 13 km walk to Enoggera while rattling cans.

Read more about Mick’s story here

Why Trojan’s Trek Works

Kendall Bird followed the progress of veterans on Trojan’s Trek as part of her Master’s Degree in Psychology at UniSA. This is what she discovered.
Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 11.37.14 pm

When I started my evaluation of Trojan’s Trek, I wasn’t sure what I was going to find. There’s no ‘quick fix’ when you are suffering. Change is often deeper, more meaningful and more complex. My question was this: can outdoor peer support work as a part of therapy for veterans? Trojan’s Trek is a good example. It takes
veterans with mental health stress on a ‘trek’ in the Northern Flinders Ranges where they are exposed to outdoor activities, with support for targeted self-reflection and learning by peers.


Through self-completed questionnaires, a substantial shift and sustained improvement in their mental health and wellbeing was seen, with much lower depression, anxiety and stress and greater life satisfaction and self-efficacy by the end of their time away. These outcomes were maintained even two months after completing the Trek.

Studies in the USA have found that veterans fare better when they have access to peer support. The USA, Canada and the UK all have peer-based services for veterans in some form. Canada, in particular, has integrated the approach with national veterans’ services.

For the men who took part in the 2011 and 2012 Royal Australian Regiment Association (SA) Trojan’s Trek, I saw remarkable results. Through self-completed questionnaires, a substantial shift and sustained improvement in their mental health and wellbeing was seen, with much lower depression, anxiety and stress and greater life satisfaction and self-efficacy by the end of their time away. These outcomes were maintained even two months after completing the Trek.

In general, the men started the Trek with extremely low levels of wellbeing, and left with much higher levels of mental health and satisfaction with life. That’s impressive, I thought. This is a big deal.
Why Trojan’s Trek Works

I was also privileged to read veterans’ diaries from the Trek. It was clear that change happened because they were ‘immersed’ with new-found mates for six days. Sharing the experience of change with others who understood was the key: they could make greater sense of the past and look forward to the future with a greater sense of personal power in their lives.

While peer support can have its pitfalls, when it’s well-managed and structured the approach is promising. There’s something real, something meaningful. If it means one more veteran taking that step to seek more help, or one less suicide, or one more veteran who makes the transition out of the military with less mental pain and panic, then it has to be worthwhile. It’s an ideal approach that can work alongside other
therapies.

As one veteran said: ‘Really, what some of us have done is put into practice a lot of concepts our medical practitioners have been talking to us about.’

Kendall Bird presented her findings at the Australasian Military Medicine Association National Conference held in Adelaide in November. Full research results are due to be published in a Special Edition on Australian Mental Health early in 2014. A link will be available via the RSL-SA & NT website.

SELECTION OF COMMENTS FROM PARTICIPANTS JOURNALS TROJAN’S TREK 2013

When I sit back and think poor me, I know now to stop and engage some common sense, I am not alone! Being in this environment has taught me humility and respect.

Wow! Where to start? I suppose the beginning but in the journey, where is the beginning? I am surprised just how quickly and unplanned the panic sets in. I was apprehensive about doing a journal but I think, albeit slowly I am finding the process helpful.

I would seriously consider coming back as a mentor as well as trying to influence some digger mates to consider coming on 2014. I find just being in the middle of the wilderness with like-minded blokes to be very grounding, peaceful relaxing. Yesterday here was only the first day and already I feel like I have known some of the blokes here for a while

Being here is really reinforcing where I am at, where I want to be and who I want to be. I sincerely hope to one day spend my time being a part of this and sharing my knowledge …It makes me fell alive again

I have gotten a lot out of this journey, met some amazing blokes who I will be mates with for life.
Before the trek I could not even sleep, just toss and turn with thoughts what have I gotten into, how did my life get so f…d up. Should I just bail and go the lone wolf and stop inflicting my family with this CURSE.I was told the drive was 3 hours by Dave which probably helped me get there. So it was six but what the f..k you’re here anyway go for the ride, that’s three hours less counselling.

I was made feel at home, I was not judged(?).The first days talks were inspirational. Poxey got my head going, poke here poke there, amazing shit activated previous knowledge, synapses are firing

I can help others by my example just by turning up, that is the start of a new improved life. I will now be more interested in my family instead of interesting. Got to open up to Dogs a little more about relationships with family and girlfriend

It was really good having Craig and Mick on the trek because they really understand as they have been there as well. A penny for our thoughts and I got quite choked up because I was upset that the time was coming when I was going to have to say goodbye to these amazing blokes. They have been so supportive and actually understand what I am going through. I can actually talk to blokes who I can open up to and trust, this stuff is just priceless.

I think it has already made such a big impact on my life and I’m so grateful to be able to call every one of these blokes my mate, both trekkers and staff. I feel like I belong, like somehow I am meant to be here, this is my moment, my time. My choice to fix me. Being on this program and surrounded by others who are in similar boot, I hope to gain the tools or at least begin to.

If I wasn’t here, I know I would not live to see Xmas. These blokes call themselves farmers, over the past 3 days they have only planted the seeds but the fu…rs have started to germinate.

..it’s all those jars filled with pent-up emotions/feelings/experiences have all been smashed …it is a relief. I told the boys my story. The support feedback I’ve received has been incredible. I was finally free of my demons?

Trojan’s Trek on Lateline

Recently the ABC’s Lateline programme was extremely generous to give us 20 mins of national airtime. You can read the transcript here or watch the video below.

Many thanks to Anne Blake for the video

Next Trek: 21 to 26 September 2014, we need your help.

Welcome! Here at Trojan’s Trek we’ve been conducting Treks for men-only for several years. But what about women who return from combat zones?

Next year we will be doing separate men and women treks and we need your help.

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 11.26.33 pm

It is the opinion of trek staff that returned women have, by and large, been ignored by many organisations which provide advice and assistance following deployments. So we’re putting the call out for a women-only trek in 2014.

We need your help

If you can spare some cash, please DONATE directly to the Foundation bank account. The details are:

Trojans Trek Foundation Limited

BSB 015 367  Account number 382 585 648. 

Or send a cheque to The Treasurer, Trojan’s Trek Foundation, C/- 135 Upper Sturt Rd, Upper Sturt SA, 5156

Or via PayPal or credit card. See the DONATE button in our side bar.

All donations are tax deductible via the Trojan’s Trek Foundation.

If you can help us further develop our programme then please read on.

We recognise that women have different needs and combined with the all-inclusive roles which they now fulfil it is obvious that they will suffer similar illnesses to the men. There are however differences both psychological and physiological which will predicate against a one size fits all program for both.

So we need help. Can you assist with the content and development of a female version of Trojan’s Trek ?

It is to this end that we seek input from women with military experience who can contribute to the development of a program for females.

When:
Trek dates are 21 to 26 September, 2014.
Attendance is free ex-Adelaide although assistance is available in some cases.
The trek aim and objectives are contained in the 2013 Report.

If you have suggestions, know someone who should attend  or know someone who would contribute, please contact

Mark Keynes   0487 453 488 or mark@rslsa.org.au

Please note: The trek is more a journey in the head than on the ground.

Please see our FAQ for more information or do not hesitate to call Moose

UniSA study: Trojan’s Trek is a world leader in supporting returned veterans deal with mental health issues

From The Advertiser, October 13th, 2013. By John Stokes. Original article here

Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 1.57.26 PM

“A SUPPORT program that takes former soldiers trekking in the Flinders Ranges has been rated among the best in the world at helping young veterans deal with the horrors of war, a new study has found.

For the past five years the annual Trojan’s Trek has seen 10-12 ex-servicemen take part in the many diverse activities on the trek in the Flinders Ranges.  It is here where older veterans help younger comrades develop strategies to cope with their military-induced stress disorders.

The organisation Director is retired Lieutenant Colonel Moose Dunlop OAM.

UniSA Masters student Kendall Bird’s two-year study on the program, which was released at the Australasian Military Medicine Conference in Adelaide in Nov  has found that new bench marks in outdoor peer support programs have been set.  These rate the program as world’s best practice.

Lt-Col Dunlop described the Flinders Ranges as “the world’s biggest office in the largest consulting room in the world” said the setting allowed former soldiers to bond and take stock of their lives and relationships.

“Certain things happen in life which can cause anxiousness and depression which feed on each other.  Life becomes a big, big circle that goes from bad to worse,” Moose Dunlop said.  “That’s the way the returned men describe it.”

“The trek is a circuit breaker which results in individuals returning from the trek back into society as individuals who are highly motivated to change their circumstances .”

The program includes workshops and seminars as well as activities such as four-wheel-driving.

Moose said the study revealed most trekkers, in spite of being badly affected at the start, no longer showed signs of stress or depression, different to the community norms even two months after finishing the Trek.

He said the relocation of hundreds of soldiers from Darwin to Adelaide’s  Edinburgh Base in 2011, combined with the staged withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Middle East, meant more soldiers would soon be needing support.

“A lot of the soldiers will be back (at Edinburgh) and I reckon a lot of them will put their hand up and say ‘look, I’ve got a problem’.”   Moose aims to create a similar program for ex-servicewomen next year and is in the process of finding suitable female veterans to advise on content as well as take a lead.

Stephen Cates served with the army for eight months in Afghanistan in 2008  and found it difficult to adjust to civilian life on his return.

“I had a number of issues reintegrating, not so much into work, but into family life,” Mr Cates, 40, said.

“I self medicated with antidepressants and alcohol – which we all know doesn’t work.”

He said the trek gave him the chance to open up about his experience of war.

“We don’t want to tell people some of the things we’ve seen, done, heard – that’s not what we’re about,” he said.
“That’s where Trojan’s Trek comes in. It’s about peer support, being able to talk to someone.”

James Paterson, 31, served in Iraq for seven months in 2005 and went on Trojan’s Trek last month after “wasting a lot of years”. “If I hadn’t gone it was just a trail of self destruction,” he said.

“It’s all about the peer support. They’ve been there before and they’ve done it, and hopefully we can do it for the young guys that come through.”

The trek is now established as a not for profit Foundation with DGR status, ie all donations are tax deductible.