REPORT TO THE AGM 20 June 2015

Introduction

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.

Activities
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.

Finances
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.

Affiliations

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.

Competition
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.
Staff
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.

Outcome Measurement
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.

The Future
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.

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 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
Program Director
15 June 2015

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.