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Welcome to our new sponsor, RSL CareMore information here
watch the new video on Trojan’s TrekClick here to watch our video
Listen to Moose and Rachael on Triple Js Hack programmeIn 2005, Steve Cannane interviewed Moose and Rachael on Triple Js Hack programme about the inter-generational effects of war. He later won a Walkley Award for this interview. You can listen here
Listen to Moose on Conversations with Richard Fidler
What our participants are saying
“Counselling is clinical, this is personal…”
“I just wish I could have had this opportunity fifteen years ago...”
“I am finding answers to why I think I am what I am....I am mainly here because I see myself failing as a father at home.”
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RSL (Queensland Branch) is proud to have supported Trojan’s Trek’s inaugural Queensland-based event to ensure local veterans who are struggling to cope with life outside the military have access to this evidence-based therapy.
RSL understands that the transition to civilian life poses numerous battles for veterans and, through partnering with a number of different programs, we are able to maximise the assistance we can provide. We also understand the value of veterans helping veterans, as it is through shared experiences that those who are struggling may be able to forge a path forward and develop a valuable support network.
Our support of Trojan’s Trek is just one example of our commitment to supporting those who are serving or those who have served in the Australian Defence Force and their families.
To understand the services available and programs supported by RSL (Queensland Branch) visit www.rslqld.org.
In the spirit of their legacy, RSL Care continues to promote wellbeing for our fellow Australians and veterans.
This August, RSL Care will proudly sponsor Trojan’s Trek in its premier Queensland event.
RSL Care’s legacy with the veteran community is long and rich. They have provided services to veterans for over 75 years, opening their first veterans’ hostel in 1938. As they have grown and developed over the years to welcome all Australians who need their services, RSL Care have maintained their commitment to working with the ex-Service community.
For more information about RSL Care, visit www.rslcare.com.au
WHY? Funds are needed to continue Trojan’s Trek a program to help with the rehabilitation of young veterans returning from combat duties.
WHAT? Four different event options with prize money on offer:
1. 5km walk (families, prams, and pets on leash are welcome). Two $50 random spot prizes.
2. 5km FEMALE run. Prize of $100 for first place.
3. 5km MALE run. Prize of $100 for first place.
4. 5km TEAM OF 3 EVENT. Prize of $200 for first complete finishing team.
WHERE? River Torrens, directly north of the Torrens Parade Ground. NOTE : Parking WILL be available on the Torrens Parade Ground.
WHEN? Sunday 25 October, 2015, starting at 0930
AFTER? BBQ, coffee and big raffle prize draws.
Registration: there are TWO ways to register:
1) Snail mail. Download this PDF form, print it and fill it out then mail it.
2) Register online. Use our online form to register and pay online using either credit card or PayPal.
2015 is the seventh year of operations in SA and heralds the first year of operating in QLD. Since the first trek in 2009, the program has assisted 75 male and 16 female veterans adapt to life following deployments. These were all individuals with mental health issues resulting from service. The program outcomes have been independently gauged by two studies at UniSA and one at ACPMH, providing confirmation of our strong beliefs.
In 2014 the Foundation decided to conduct a female trek which was run in parallel to the male version. The separation was necessary because of significant differences in the issues facing women, allied with the fact that better outcomes were achievable with single sex groups. The female version was rated a success and 2015 will again see a male and female trek run in SA based at Moolooloo station in the North Flinders Ranges.
As previously mentioned a QLD trek will commence this year in August, run as a pilot trek to ascertain its viability and demand in that state. It will be based near the town of Milmerran on the Darling Downs 200 km west of Brisbane. The facilities of the QLD Sporting Shooters Association (SSAA) at Captain’s Mountain will be used as the base camp.
With the expanded program it is vital that the organisational structure is capable and a succession plan is developed, in particular to understudy key positions within the organisation. In short the 2015 commentary and highlights were:
• South Australia: The SA organisation currently consists of a Project Director, an administrative assistant and a treasurer. My overall responsibilities are to oversee the running and development of the SA and QLD treks. I am also involved in :
a. Speaking engagements to various service clubs and interested parties,
b. The provision of advice to government agencies as it relates to veteran matters,
c. Addressing the entire staff of Ward 17 at the Repatriation Hospital in Melbourne as a result of glowing reports from previous trekkers.
d. Attending fund raisers for the cause. One was a music gig at the Jade Monkey organised by one of past trekkers ($728) and another was the provision of six past trekkers who attended and assisted in the running of the Centenary of the Motor Car at Carrick Hill for Adelaide Rotary.
• Marryatville Primary School. Trojan’s Trek for two years has been the recipient of the sale of poppies made by the students of Marryatville Primary. This touching gesture has been organised by a veteran friend of the foundation, Ken Duthie. This year the project benefitted to the tune of $230.
• Uber Transport. I am pleased to report that I was contacted by Uber (the taxi organisation) who promised $1 for every taxi job on Anzac Day. Yet to materialise.
• Royalties. I also extend my thanks to John Schumann for the generous donation of the royalties from his recent CD, On Every Anzac Day.
• AEP Support. Reuben Vanderzalm through his company AEP, has offered to run the Veterans’ Support Walk on 25 October. This is our major fund raiser for the year.
• Assistant Staff. For the SA treks I have enlisted the support of two other staff who are responsible to identify, screen and fill each of the SA treks. One is based in the NT and the other in VIC.
• QLD. A QLD trek director has been appointed. He is Peter Keith who has been a facilitator with the Foundation since 2010. He is supported by an administrative assistant who was a trekker in 2011. The QLD Chapter, although independent in a fund raising sense, operates under my and board direction. Four trek staff will travel to QLD to assist and guide the first trek.
The QLD achievements to date are:
a. The formation of a team of seven individuals to load spread responsibilities,
b. A funding agreement for four years with RSL Care QLD with conditions,*
c. Media and financial support and advice from RSL QLD,
d. A close partnership with Mates4Mates QLD,
e. Excellent fund raising support from the 8/9th battalion of the RAR and the 1st Division Commander, based at Enoggera,
f. Running an annual fund raising event which was conducted this year for the second time raising $7500 approximately, and
g. Establishing a good working relationship with SSAA, National Parks and State Forestry staff.
At the field level the assessing and training of suitable individuals to assume roles during the trek is progressing well and will occur during the QLD trek. In SA and in QLD a number of past trekkers are fulfilling mentor roles and in time some will be suitable to occupy the facilitator positions.
Equipment and Assets
As a general principal, the foundation hires equipment and other necessaries rather than purchase. The foundation currently owns the following:
• 30 swags,
• 6 CB radios,
• an enclosed trailer,
• a St John’s off road first aid kit, and
• a number of bush suitable pots and pans and tables.
The swags are stored at the RAR Club at Linden Park and the trailer is stored at the home of the Camp Commandant, Colin Cogswell.
The Foundation is in a relatively sound financial position with the following balances:
• SA Chapter ANZ Trading Account $14,633.00. Westpac Term Deposit $123,853.00
*Continuing RSL Care support is conditional upon 80% of the participants showing improvement in 80% of the responses to the
4 Measuring Instruments
• QLD Chapter ANZ $12,849.00 with anticipated contribution of $60.000 from RSL Care (QLD) on 1 July. Additional financial support from RSL(QLD) is anticipated.
SA. Trojan’s Trek is open to partnerships and affiliations. Currently TT has an MOU with the RSL in SA. This is seen as beneficial to both organisations. Trojan’s Trek also retains good working relationships with a number of other companies and organisations in SA. They are:
• Adelaide Exercise Physiology,
• RSL Care SA,
• Adelaide Rotary Club, and
• Pioneer tanks.
Although no other organisations are operating in the same field with the same objectives as the Foundation, it is probable that some attempt to mirror the program could occur.
That observation is made based on the proliferation of well-meaning support groups which flourish in this space. This may tend to spread the resources more thinly and place greater pressure on funding. I look to our partners, in particular the RSL, to assume a greater more pro-active role in the product and in market education and outcomes.
This year 18 staff members will be used to run the programs. Of these the four main facilitators and the mentors are vital elements in maintaining consistent and effective delivery. Efforts continue with selection and identification of suitable staff to fulfil the succession plan. Four understudy facilitators will be assessed on the 2015 treks. I publicly extend my thanks to the staff, without whose support and skill, the program would be less effective. In short, these men and women achieve outcomes in six days which many clinicians could only dream of.
Since the commencement of the program in 09, the requirement to produce independent evidence based outcomes was recognised. 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 sequence 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. Analysis of this data by UniSA students and undergraduates on two occasions indicates the effectiveness of the program even after a period of 8 months has passed. Trojans Trek is the only program of this type which I am aware of, which measures outcomes independently.
It seems that there is a continuing demand for trek services. I anticipate that a female trek will occur in QLD in 2016 as now happens in SA. It will be necessary to review our structure and processes in the near future to cater for increased workload and staffing requirements.
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 charter does not provide for follow-up support, most of the facilitators provide a welcome shoulder to the trekkers long after the trek has concluded. In addition, social media fills a necessary link to the past enlightenment for many.
Moose Dunlop OAM
15 June 2015
John Schumann donated the artists’ royalties of I Was Only 19 to the VVAA’s Agent Orange Royal Commission fund. It was a most generous act. Now he’s doing it again for the younger diggers.
This time he’s donating the royalties from On Every Anzac Day to Trojan’s Trek, a wilderness-based program for veterans suffering from PTSD. (John Schumann is a member of the Board). The song is featured on the CD album, Behind the Lines, John Schumann and the Vagabond Crew (expanded edition).
You can buy the CD at a music store, or you can download the full CD or just the song from iTunes.
Trojan’s Trek is a program which was first run in the North Flinders Ranges of SA in the late 1990s to assist troubled Vietnam veterans return to a normal life. Participants figuratively undertake a journey, which facilitates new ways of viewing themselves, their colleagues and partners in a remote location while investigating ways to facilitate change. Some of the past trekkers have denoted this as a ‘stocktake of life, feelings and behaviour.’ The program is live-in, is highly individually focused and delivered by staff that have the necessary accreditation. More importantly they are also ‘warriors’ who have experienced and overcome the same frustrations as those attending. Trojan’s Trek provides the setting and conditions under which participants will experience a lasting positive shift in values and interpersonal relationships. ▄
The following qualitative comments are taken at random from participants journals and correspondence. Thanks to everyone for allowing us to post these.
Trojan’s Trek was up there with one of the most, if not the most enlightening experience I have had as a Vietnam veteran trying to come home since I returned from Vietnam over 40 years ago. ….” Moose, I say you can teach some old dogs new tricks” Honk honk!! 2014 trekker
“It was our absolute pleasure to lend you and the Trek our xxxxxxxxx (the best Daddy & Husband in the whole wide world) although we did miss him very much we knew he would be nothing short of amazing!! He was chuffed to be asked to go on the Trek as staff this year and had no hesitation at all accepting the offer as he and I both know if it wasn’t for TT we wouldn’t be the happiest little family that we are today. So THANK YOU to you and Moose for giving xxxxxxxxx the opportunity to ever go on the Trek in the first place, to gain the tools and change his mindset to become one of the most amazing and positive people I know – partner of 2014 participant.
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 day’s talks were inspirational. Poxy 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?
Then a mate from the army said “hay have you seen Trojans Trek, you’re a vet you should go”, my reply was “nah mate I have no issues”. I asked him when it was that was October 2011, and something must have been saying do it as I filled out a leave application for September 2012. I found myself as the time was getting closer becoming more and more excited. I am happy to say that I don’t think I am the same person anymore.
Recently my wife was diagnosed with Bowel cancer, and during the initial days when clouds formed, I found myself calm. For the last 7 weeks now we have faced this new challenge with drive and positivity that I don’t think I would have had if I had not gone through the Trojans program.
Talked at length with Andrew about my time in Somalia and found myself talking about stuff that I usually find uncomfortable. I am finding answers to why I think I am what I am. Dogs makes a lot of sense and I am mainly here because I see myself failing as a father at home.
Webster’s defines self-realisation as:“The fulfilment by oneself of the possibilities of one’s character or personality.”
“The above I believe encapsulates the overall intent of Trojans Trek (TT). As a participant I eventually came to the conclusion that I needed to be at one with myself in order to commence addressing my problems. As a result of my service I had indeed slowly adopted a victim mentality, and was so wrapped up within my own self doubt, pity, fear and anger that I had effectively shut myself off from most around me. I was well aware that I had issues and problems that needed addressing, but now with hindsight I was waiting for help.
TT made me realise that the person who could provide me with the most help was myself. Assistance and support was (and still is) available, but no progress would be made until I came to the realisation that I firstly needed to understand why I feel like I do, and that the selfish methods I was utilising to deal with those feelings were not in my or my families best interests both from a physical and psychological perspective. I felt alone amongst those who love and support me. This situation was ludicrous.
I am of the opinion that the remote location and the fact that all involved were returned servicemen contributed significantly to the effectiveness of TT. I felt that I could talk to anyone around me without being judged, pitied or provided no more than ‘lip service’. I understand now how ridiculous it was that I felt I could not do this with those at home who love and support me, but the week away with veterans in the same situation has provided me with that insight. It also allowed me to ‘dry out’ which in turn provided me with the clear head required to rationally address my thoughts and feelings. The calm surroundings far away and totally removed from the pressures that accompany everyday life assisted in this process immensely.
The TT program is in my opinion a very effective tool in shifting perspective and allowing returned servicemen to ‘re-boot’ their head and commence the path to becoming well again. I am now of the opinion that closed room counselling sessions are nowhere near as effective as the approach adopted by those involved in TT. For that they are to be congratulated. As a result of my experience I fully intend to become involved in any future TT as I feel that I would gain great satisfaction from assisting those who are travelling the same path that I am, as well as providing me with a reminder that my past lifestyle and attitude is no more than self destructing.
…..I also wanted to say thank you again for the week and all the mentoring and advice you gave me. Matt and I sat down over the weekend and talked at length about the trek and we both came to the conclusion that we had both learnt so much and I know now that am in a better place and it will keep on improving. My parents spent the weekend with us and I took on board everything you said about my relationship with my dad. I showed him the nail trick and listen to all his stories about his D Coy 4RAR reunion. I was just happy to have him and mum down here. When they left on Monday I put my arms around him, gave him a big hug and told him I loved him. Something I have never ever done, He was a bit taken back but I know we both aren’t use to it. Anyway thanks again, you were a real inspiration and I know a lot of other younger blokes would get so much out of the experience of the last week.
If the world had more men like those I listened to this week, it would be vastly different. Each man I have listened to has got great strength not only in their minds, but in what they say. This trek for me wasn’t about finding out what my problem is! It’s about finding out some ways to deal with it. The men on the course have been legends. With some it’s been evident from the first time I met them, others it’s taken me ‘til now to see. Time with everyone has helped me to understand a legend isn’t something in a book or a movie, it’s us. This is one experience I will never forget and will pass on to those I know. Life is too short to be a grumpy, uninteresting old man. Thank you everyone for this week long journey.
He really did get a lot out of going and I’ve already noticed a change – Partner of 2014 participant.
Overall I thought the course was absolutely brilliant. There were no expectations before the course, however it has been one of the best things I have done in a long time.
In response to Trojans trek it was invaluable to be with the other veteran’s despite the different campains/ conflicts we were all involved with. As we share a common bond of varying level of ptsd, and the inability to discuss many of our experiences with any other than each other due to content, and fear of judgment (shit that is so far out that could not possibly happen).
Many times with different participant’s the comment was simply shit I haven’t laughed this much in a long time, how bloody true is this very fact.
I simply make this plea; there was very little support for the Vietnam vet’s upon their return please do not make the same mistake with us and those whom are to return in the future.
The simple fact is the true benefit is being away from everything (Tele news, the papers, the radio, and to some degree society) and given the opportunity to think reassess and absorb words of wisdom from others who experienced the issues some time before us. So please keep the program going and thank you to those who took time out to help us.
Went for a walk with the boys and had to stop because I needed time out. The boys were concerned but realised I needed time out. Was memories good and bad from my childhood to the present came rushing out at me in no particular order while. I was looking at a small running stream. Did a calming routine that I have been taught here and was able to focus. Today I am in myself and at peace.
Something has come together for me today. Feeling great this morning, did not wake or stir last night. At home I regularly use sleeping tablets to help me sleep. I am really looking forward to getting home tomorrow, not because I am not enjoying myself but because I think the penny has finally dropped. I feel like a kid who has fallen off his bike and is sitting in the dirt feeling sorry for myself waiting for someone to come and help me. But now I feel I have been helped off the ground and dusted off. I am not back on the bike- that’s up for me to do myself but I have the tools ….
I came to the trek with blinkers (sic) on, both about my life and the trek. I believe I will leave minus the blinkers, in a better state than I arrived and with a better understanding of who I am, what I have done and what I can do from here on in.
The activity has been beneficial for myself and I believe that I will be able to use much of the advice given.
There is now a good relationship with my husband but how many years of counselling, and at what cost to us and financially for the govt. How many couples haven’t made it, how many young people, sons and daughters of veterans found other ways to cope because the help the veterans were receiving was way too slow to save the family? What I saw in Trojan’s Trek was the opportunity for the older veterans to get alongside the younger veterans and speak truth and life to them – Partner of 2014, participant.
I have found since returning from Trojan’s Trek that I have totally different outlook on life and now I deal with things that in the past would have had me” losing it”. I deal with negative things a lot better. My wife has commented on the change in me since I came back. I have done a number of courses for PTSD, but I have found that TROJAN’S TREK has been the best and most beneficial by far!! Thanks Moose and all the staff.
Trojans Trek was an extremely mentally fatiguing time for me; it took me a few days of rest when I got home to process what I had been through, even though I got and still have some of my best sleep out in the bush in swags. To this day even though some of my worst memories from being wounded in Afghanistan one of the best is sleeping in swags, so what better place and environment I think to take veterans than out in the bush. 2014 trekker
The day dawned with lots of black clouds and the threat of rain imminent. But our concerns were unfounded. Overcast, 24 degrees, an ideal day for a stroll or run round the 5 km track Trevor Atkins had marked out round the Torrens Lake. The sponsors were committed, the coffee was brewing, and the barbeque was warming as they set off.
The serious runners blasted out of the blocks keen to compete for the $100 male and female prizes. The rest, all 120, with dogs and children at foot moved off as a wave of support for the concept of veterans helping veterans. It was not long before the first male and female runners completed the course to the accolades of the injured, the workers and the lazy. Well done to the winners, a special thanks to the first lady home, Catherine May who donated her prize money back to the cause.
After a period of indulgence at the Metro Fire Service & 9 RAR sausage sizzle, Kevin Scarce ex SA Governor, drew the big raffle.
The prize winners were:
FIRST PRIZE: Rod Graham, a Battle Field Tour to Vietnam for two to mark the 50th anniversary of Australia’s involvement in that war;
SECOND PRIZE: Robert Day OAM, a Big TV,
THIRD PRIZE: $250 Mr Stait from Wagga Wagga and
FOURTH PRIZE: Greg Hallam, a selection of fine SA parliamentary wine.
All in all a successful day which will underpin future operations. Moose and the board extend their sincere thanks for your involvement on the day with a special mention extended to the great sponsors of the event.
2014 was the first time Trojan’s Trek expanded into female veterans. We had a overwhelming response. The ABC’s Lateline programme was there to film it. Reporter, Ginny Stein; cameraman, Brant Cummings; presenter, Steve Cannane.
On Sunday 21 September 2014, a gathering of 16 women and two facilitators met up in Adelaide to take part in a complete unknown. They were a collective of women who had been finding it tough to live a normal life due to ill health, physical injury or issues related to military service. Most of the women hadn’t met before and they were about to participate in a pilot program for Trojan’s Trek sisters. This was to be a national, if not world first program, in recognition of various traumas suffered by women who have volunteered to serve their country in the Australian Defence Force.
The Trek is a 6 day outdoor experience in the North Flinders Ranges on Moolooloo Station. The women were based at the Blinman Hut, a small remote stone hut, yet adequately serviced with running hot and cold water and toilet facilities. To say that the women were anxious, would be a massive understatement as fear of the unknown and loss of control in a challenging situation are the enemies of most women, let alone women suffering.
A set of sisterly virtues was adopted which in turn set the scene for the duration of the trek. That basic connection was made with each individual and holistically as a group. Every woman was individually supported and allowed to be themselves in a safe and secure environment with the knowledge that they could choose to discuss their personal story if they so desired. All had equal opportunity to “spill their guts of burden” and be no longer judged for a past that wasn’t their fault. All took that opportunity in some way shape or form with support, validation and recognition that their story was worth telling. As a result, all felt no longer the need to carry the load that they had personally been holding within for a very long time.
To place a dollar value on the return of self-worth and empowerment is just not possible. To allow a woman to choose a release from a past in which she has been trapped is priceless! To show them that care and compassion can exist in such a raw and rugged environment is an experience that will resonate with them for life! I know for a fact that there are now 16 women carrying a lighter load due to our week in the bush. Sixteen sisters with spirit and new hope for change facing the future. It is a cause and awareness of the needs of service women which is long overdue. It has shown the way and given the participants the choice of “living versus existing”.
This program needs to continue and be funded accordingly for all of the reasons that I have stated above, no ifs or buts. There is no price on saving a human life and empowering a person again with unity, purpose and cause! This is a very real issue and after all we are someone’s sister, mother, aunt and friend!