strategy meeting 2023

Left to right … back row – Cess, Moose, Sharon, Paul W, Paul R. Front row – Peter, Brendan. Absent.. Rob Manton.

Over the course of the 18th and 19th of Feb 2023, the Trojans Trek Board gathered in Adelaide to set our course for the next three years. The meeting was attended by all current Board members and a visit from our Clinical Advisory Group (comprised of Andrew Badenoch and Geoff Roe-Phillips) and our SA Point of Contact (Paul Wilton).

A broad range of topics was covered, including reviewing our organisational intent, roles and responsibilities. Key opportunities, risks, new service offerings, marketing and branding, and organisational consistency.

All outcomes were achieved, and the Board reported greater clarity and a sense of purpose. I wish to thank the Board and guests for their contribution, our Board secretaries, Margaret Grocke and John Grocke, for the generous use of his corporate office for the event.

Peter Keith

, , , ,

Trojan’s Trek Charity Walk 2022

After a promising start with over 200 registrations and numerous sponsors, the 2022 Trojan’s Trek Charity Walk looked set to break records!

The predicted bad weather (including thunderstorms and lightning) kept a few away. However, Mother Nature was kind and kept her rain clouds full until after the event had finished.

Belinda McKeown, a self-declared “army brat” with indigenous ties and a clear understanding of life in the Defence Force, gave an emotional and moving “Welcome to Country.” We were all touched by her words.

Our special guest and Patron, Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia, spoke before the start and showed both a keen interest in and understanding of what Trojans Trek is all about. The results achieved and life-changing tools learned on treks impressed her greatly.

And so the Walk began!! Runners, walkers, and strollers set off along the Torrens, hoping to beat the rain – and they did.

Winners were announced, awards were presented, raffles were drawn, auction items fiercely fought over, music and coffee were enjoyed, and delicious BBQ sausages were devoured … then the heavens opened!

A fabulous morning with amazing souls who helped raise around $18,000 for Trojans Trek, about half the cost of one Trek – great effort!

Special thanks to Reuben and his team from AEP Health Group for all their hard work organising the event and to our many sponsors and supporters for braving the weather and making the 2022 Walk such a memorable success.

Look forward to seeing you all (and more) again next year …



AEP Health Group

Pioneer Water Tanks (SA)

Operation Unity

Bolton Clarke

Silver – Ascendancy ABA

Silver – Edwardstown Rotary Club

Silver – TWU SA/NT

Silver – Unitech Building

Bronze – Wealth Evolution

Bronze – Defence Health

Bronze – Advanced Promotional Products

Bronze – Unifi Technology

Bronze – Johnston Grocke Group

Bronze – Police Credit Union

$750 – DVA Grant (Veterans Health Week)

Goods – North Terrace Tyres

Goods – Maine Beach

Goods – Mark Lobert Gallery

Goods – Running Bare

Goods – Trelivings

Goods – False Cape Wines





1. This report is both my Board report for SA and the end-of-year report to the AGM. The QLD report for the year will be presented by the Chair or Brendan.

2. The year has passed with difficulties related to the issues presented by COVID. This has been further complicated by the apparent reluctance of our clients to join an unknown group of individuals for a period in the bush, an attitude which I completely understand.

3. The SA trek for 22 was scheduled to be run for the first time at the new location at Alpana station. The reasons for the relocation were outlined in my report last AGM.  To ensure that the trek was planned and re-written, a reconnaissance of the location was conducted by nine staff in April.  Following the recon, four members returned a positive result for COVID despite a negative RAT before departure.  One member from Tasmania could not travel home and was accommodated in a separate area at Keswick Barracks until clear.  This arrangement was most welcome given the alternative in a nominated Medi-motel or hotel would have been expensive.

4. In short, Alpana is satisfactory as a base. The country is not as spectacular and does not contain places like Nuccaleena, the Bushman’s Inn, or Hannigan Gap, but it offers other advantages at the base, which are a welcome offset. The facilities are superior, and power does not depend on running the noisy generator, which was the case at Moolooloo. There are other minor issues to be attended which will occur over time, making Alpana suitable. I am confident that it meets or will meet the Foundation needs.

SA Trek 18 to 23 SEP 2022
5. Eleven nominated to attend. The group included four women, an aspect which was an advantage in sharing what may be different male/female opinions.  This added another view to the discussions. The composition of the group was:

• Paramedics 3 (2 from VIC), 1 female,

• Ex-army 4, 1 female,

• CFS 2,

• SAAS volunteer 1 female, and

• Board Member 1 female.

6. Those attending included four ex-military, with the balance being first responders.  This appears to be the trend of late, with fewer military nominating.  The reason for that is not known but combined with the lack of combat deployments and the proliferation of organisations that assist veterans, it is probably the way of the future.

7. The trek was successful, and the participant evaluations which are available all indicate the group was assisted greatly in commencing their journey to recovery. It was also of interest to note that Goal Attainment Setting (GAS) was accepted as a good personal concept in supporting recovery. One member has had a setback since return, resulting in his admission to the Margaret Tobin Centre for a short stay.

8. The Foundation’s attempts to achieve some form of recognition from the Department of Veterans is a chapter filled with disappointment. Three previous notices of advice that the Foundation is not recognised as an ESO were challenged and dismissed.  However, following a recent application for a grant, the Grants Hub advised that the Foundation was not recognised as an ESO, therefore, not eligible to apply.  The reason was based on new conditions which categorically eliminated the Foundation.  The new conditions are as follows:

 Ex-service organisations (ESOs) provide day-to-day ongoing support to current and former ADF members.

 For the purposes of the VWG program, an ESO is an organisation that satisfies all of the below points:

 • has demonstrated direct links to the ex-service community.

has membership consisting primarily of veterans, past and present members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and/or their dependants.

is established primarily to provide compensation advocacy and/or wellbeing advocacy to veterans, past and present members of the ADF and/or their dependents.

does not charge any fee for acting on behalf of the veterans, past and present members of the ADF and/or their dependants in the provision of claims or well-being services.

has objectives that aim to benefit the well-being of its members.


9. My entries in red will be difficult to overcome. Contact with the Repatriation Commissioner, who understands our work, to attempt rationalisation of the decision has been to date, non-productive.  In his words, “he is snookered by the bureaucracy.”  The Foundation has the option to partner with the RAR Corporation, which I think will permit acceptance of applications.  However, this remains to be tested.

10. On 29 Nov, 2022, I will be speaking with Minister Geoff Brock, who is the state minister for Veterans, about several matters of concern, among them will be this topic. I hope to bring some up-dated news to the AGM.

NT Trek
11. This matter has not received attention over recent months because of other priorities. However, it is an issue that will be addressed in 2023.  I have reservations about the advantages of expansion at the moment because of the reluctance of DVA to support the Foundation supporting their clients.  A reconnaissance is planned for 2023 but a lot of prior work is necessary to establish whether financial support is likely from NT sources.  The position of the NT Administration related to financial support is not known.

Staff Training
12. Staff training, which prior to COVID was an annual event, has not been conducted for two years. This is disappointing but understandable. Training the staff is considered vital in maintaining the successful approach to recovering from stress illness. I can’t emphasise enough that the Foundation has developed a unique home-grown approach to recovery from the issues of mental health.  The independent evaluations confirm our success which in large part is because the delivery is by individuals who have walked the walk, not learned the theory.  They will be the target of the training weekend.

13. However, now with the relaxation of interstate movement and other restrictions, it is anticipated that staff training will be reintroduced in 2023. I addition, I have managed to gain a grant which will cover interstate movement to Adelaide for interstate members.  I anticipate that Keswick Barracks will be the location.  More on that next year.

14. Our financial situation is sound with good investments and return on our invested money. I refer readers to the Financial Report.  My thanks to John Grocke for his advice and assistance in our investments in the Australian Money Market and other funds. 

15. Finally, I extend my thanks to the staff. The field staff in QLD and SA have performed up to expectation, producing outcomes which other organizations strive to achieve over much longer periods. To my fellow board members, thanks for being part of, and directing the Foundation over the year. To the treasurer and secretary, a busy grandmother who makes the time to keep me off her back, many thanks. To our supporters, and there are many, I single out Reuben and his staff for organizing the Charity Walk which this year raised over $18,000, a great result.

16. Many of us met our new Patron, Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia on 30 Oct. She attended the Charity Walk and spoke to the group en-masse and several individuals on the day.  She has a good understanding of our mission and success and has expressed a desire to attend a trek in 2023.

17. In conclusion, the Foundation faces significant issues with our relationship with DVA through the Grants Hub. This matter is particularly disappointing because of the Foundation’s successful years of operation assisting DVA clients in QLD and SA.  I add, all of the Foundation outcomes have been independently evaluated, a point apparently not understood by the Department.  If this attitude is maintained our funding opportunities will be limited which in time, may affect the financial viability of the Foundation.


Moose, signature






Moose Dunlop OAM

Operations Director

25 Nov 22


















  1. The Trojan’s Trek Foundation has been invited to comment in accord with the TOR subject listing. The list is comprehensive and includes several topics or areas in which the Foundation has very little experience recorded, and therefore no comments are offered.  However, those areas which, through the delivery of the intervention programs over 13 years in SA and QLD have provided a wealth of hands-on experience, the Foundation submits comments in two of the listings as follows:
  2. Existing services. The availability, accessibility, timeliness, and quality of health, wellbeing, and support services (including mental health support services) to the defence member or veteran, and the effectiveness of such services; and
  3. Role of NGO. The role of non-government organisations, including ex-service organisations, in providing relevant services and support for defence members, veterans, their families and others.


  1. Trojan’s Trek Foundation (www.trojanstrek.com) commenced operations in SA in 2009 and was incorporated in 2013 in response to an identified shortfall in effective hands-on support to veterans suffering from stress illness.  The program expanded into QLD in 2015.  It is a recognised not-for-profit charity, has gift deductible status and is run by a board of six directors. The program was established to assist younger military veterans and first responders suffering from stress illness by taking part in treks. Although first responders have always attended, they were added as a target group was a result of the recent fires and other disasters over the 2019-2020 period which saw many first responders many of whom were ex-military, deeply impacted.  The experience termed a circuit breaker, provides a valuable adjunct to clinical and other alternates over a six-day, remote live-in program.
  2. The program was independently evaluated by ACPMH (now Phoenix) and UniSA in 2009, and in 2012 and 2013 by way of masters’ theses. The results were presented at the Australasian Military Medicine Conference (AMMA) in Adelaide in November 2014 and 2019.  The outcomes established new benchmarks for peer support.  This approach to stress illness is a valuable adjunct to other methods of treatment.  Several longitudinal studies looking at longer-term impacts on individuals have also been completed over time.  They have established that the positive impact of the experience was present after 12 months.  The Primary Health Network (PHN) a federally funded body, has also completed a 12-month evaluation which was completed in Oct 2019.  In 2020, the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation (GMRF) was commissioned by RSL Qld to write and publish a paper to determine the efficacy of the program. Having been peer-reviewed and published, it provides empirical, research-based evidence that the program is most effective.
  1. The results of these evaluations indicate that the Trojan’s Trek program promotes sustained improvements in depression, anxiety, stress, self-efficacy, and life satisfaction.  Each trek continues to be independently evaluated both qualitatively and quantitatively in QLD by GMRF and in SA by Flinders University Staff.  A simplified quantitative result before and after a 6-day trek is enclosed as an example.  It shows improvement in depression, anxiety, and stress, in 87% of participants with the others remaining at no change.  Other methods of gauging outcomes are being trialled.

Existing Services 

  1. Current Practice.  The mental health services which currently are devoted to well-being and support are based on the time-honoured practice of one-on-one counselling and pharmacology.   This is the gold standard, which is adopted in most developed western countries, of which Australia is one.  One of the contradictions in medical practice terms is that most one-on-one counselling rarely if ever, uses the term recovery.  And despite the occasional dropping of the letter D in PTSD, the practice has not changed, presumably based on the definition of the condition as a permanent “disorder”.  This often results in what our clients term the “revolving door syndrome”, which refers to the ongoing referrals experienced in the clinical approach.  This is generally non-productive and frustrating for individuals.
  2. Access to Services. One of the difficulties faced by individuals and GPs is the long waiting periods faced when attempting to access psychiatric services. In some cases, waiting periods of more than nine months are common.  Clearly, this is not acceptable, and these long stressful periods can result in triggers.

Trek Design 

  1. Because the staff of Trojan’s Trek has shared the same frustrations of our clients, they understand the difficulties faced by endless consultations with no endpoint in sight or referred to. To that end, the trek program which is delivered over a six-day live-in experience in the remote bush, includes a transition from victim to gentle warrior.  The trek, sometimes described as the start of a new journey in life, is the primary business of the Foundation. Women attend as a separate group, their preference.
  2. The treks are more cranial than physical and provide the setting and conditions under which participants will experience a lasting positive shift in personal values and interpersonal relationships designed to improve their lifestyle and community involvement. The thrust of the program, which is centred on 15 formal sessions, is improved condition self-management to result in a better more productive life.  It is designed to improve social interaction and contribute to a healthy lifestyle, resulting in better family and community members by equipping our clients with “tools” to assist in their recovery.
  3. Trojan’s trek is a circuit breaker; the Foundation does not have the resources nor intent to maintain contact which can be successfully carried out by existing organizations. Most individuals will benefit from some form of follow-up treatment on completion.  The differences between this program and conventional treatment may be summarized as follows:
  • It is culture-specific.
  • It encourages group identity and results in the formation of support groups.
  • It involves veteran to veteran, responder to responder delivery.
  • It utilizes the remoteness and isolation of the bush as part of a “live in” experience.
  • The program focus is on individuals transferring from “victim to gentle warrior”, and
  • The process includes partners understanding the illness.
  1. The impact of the trek on individuals can be gauged by reading the testimonials enclosed which are taken from daily journals completed during the treks. Longer term outcomes are referred to in paragraph 3 and all the studies completed confirm that the trek impact is present after periods of 12 months and more.


  1. Attendance at a trek is free ex Brisbane and Adelaide. The amortised cost of taking one individual on a trek is approximately $2,500.  Groups of 12 to 16, all of whom self-nominate, make up the normal participant group.  Depending on the level of financial assistance offered to supplement travel expenses, each trek costs approximately $35,000 to run.  A total of five treks per year are conducted in SA and QLD.
  2. These are significant costs for a small charity that receives very little Government support. However, when compared with patient costs for clinical care at approximately $1,500 per day, they pale into insignificance given the benefits.

Role of NGO

  1. Mental health is certainly impacting many more individuals than even 5 years ago and the suffers are now more prepared to seek assistance. Combined with COVID 19, the mental health support system is close to overwhelmed.   This has placed a strain on alternate support systems and some NGO have attempted to assist, some unsuccessfully.  However, there is a role for NGO to become involved in providing even simple MH first aid to supplement the system and this should be encouraged.
  2. Currently, it is understood that more than 3,000 organisation list that they provide support to the veteran community. The Foundation is aware of the work of some, but little independent evidence is available to indicate the value of the service provided.  RSL QLD appears to be the only organisation that has attempted to grade or measure the impact of various NGOs.
  3. NGO’s play a key role in supporting government-based services in three specific ways: additional resources, alternative approaches, and broader geographic availability. The sheer volume of Ex-Service Organisations (ESO’s), most of which are NGO’s, speak to the demand for additional and alternative resources.
  4. Many of our participants report having tried the numerous currently accepted therapies including, but not limited to, regular and long stints in mental health facilities at up to $1500/day, pharmacology, one-on-one counselling with a clinician, EMDR, ECT, etc. They will universally say that the experience provided by Trojan’s Trek is the best and most effective treatment they have had.
  5. The ability to utilise alternate therapies such as Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) as part of our approach has been a key to our success. While our clients are encouraged to listen and discuss, they take away from the experience what they consider useful for their recovery, nothing more.   Whilst some of these therapies are making their way into current clinical practice but they are still largely considered fringe, and not supported by clinicians.  Our most recent peer-reviewed and published results prove that the Trojan’s Trek programs are three times more effective than the ‘Gold Standard’ treatment of pharmacology and one-on-one counselling and are sustained after two months.
  6. Finally, the ability of NGOs to be nimble and responsive (without the bureaucratic restraints of a large organisation) means that organisations like Trojan’s trek are typically the first port of call for people who need an acute response. The fact that most government services are city-based also creates opportunities for regionally located NGOs to take up the cudgel. It is in these ways that NGOs provide a valuable adjunct to the current government-provided services.


19.   The workings of the brain and the impact which experiences have on behaviour, is an area about which new information is continually presented and investigated.

There is no doubt that traumatic exposures have an adverse impact on behaviour.  Almost all who suffer from stress illness exhibit unacceptable behaviour or periods of poor anger management.  This in turn results in failed relationships, which further enhance depression and anxiety. If behaviour can be changed to conform with what is termed “normal,” recovery by reversion to the norm can be commenced.

The way in which the individual decides or is persuaded to commence that journey is of no consequence as the program “does no harm.” That is to say, the decision to make positive change is up to the individual which results from the experience of the trek.  And if that attitudinal change is supported by simple tools and individuals who have experienced similar events and are supportive, there is a significant opportunity to implement positive gains to the benefit of the community, children, loved ones, friends, and those in other relationships.

Trojan’s Trek has achieved those outcomes over 13 years with more than 400 male and female clients benefitting from the intervention.






Moose Dunlop OAM

Operations Director

Please see the attached submissions:
Submission by Jake Sparrow
Submission by Dean Saddler
Submission by Lee Bailey
Combined comments




  1. 2020 was a difficult year because of bush fires in the eastern states and SA combined with COVID 19 restrictions. This prohibited running treks in QLD but because the situation had improved by September, a trek was conducted in SA.  QLD has planned to go ahead with the postponed trek on Morton Island in Feb and following that, hopefully, will revert to the normal program.


  1. Because the foundation has no significant overheads like wages, shop front, vehicles, or running costs, the lack of activity did not result in pressure on the bottom line which many businesses and not-for-profits felt. However, I do believe that the community is experiencing donor fatigue due to the wonderful response to the fires from the end of 2019 to Feb 2020 which may affect our future fundraising.


  1. The QLD Chapter continues to maintain excellent corporation support through QLD RSL and Bolton Clarke both of which contribute significant financial support. In SA, our support base is much more diverse, the major fundraiser being the Charity Walk which could not be held in its normal form this year because of COVID 19.  Consequently, donations were well down on previous years despite a good effort by Reuben through Adelaide Exercise Physiology (AEP) to conduct a virtual walk.   However, this was offset to a degree by donations from the 9 and 4 RAR Associations, the Country Fire Service Volunteer Association, Kensington RSL, and the Northern Chapter Veterans Motorcycle Club, and several individuals and small businesses.

SA Trek

  1. This year as mentioned, a trek was able to be conducted in SA in September because of easing COVID restrictions. Those attending were a different mix to the standard in that the participation of first responders, particularly firefighters and others affected by fire, were invited.  This initiative originally planned for March was not held because of COVID lockdowns but interest was then shown and retained.  Support for the concept was strong with HE, The Governor, SAFECOM, and the CFS Volunteer Association assisting with advertising and funding among them $5,000 was provided by the CFS Volunteer Association.  The final attendance figures were five firefighters, one paramedic, one police officer, and five ex-military.  The average trekker age was reduced significantly with five firefighters being under 30.  The very good outcomes certainly confirmed my opinion about old dogs and new tricks.


  1. Because of COVID isolation requirements, all staff was from SA with one exception. They performed well despite some having to deliver new material.  Although I am not yet in possession of the independent evaluation figures from Flinders University staff, reading the journals provides a forecast of a very successful six days.  Although the Foundation has always included first responders, the Board will discuss the potential of this new market as it impacts our stated objective.


  1. Moolooloo is on the market. I hope the new owners yet to be identified, will continue with the current arrangements.


QLD Treks

  1. As mentioned, no treks were conducted in QLD in 2020.


Services Demand

  1. As indicated in last year’s report v last year, the demand for the type of intervention provided by the Foundation has not decreased despite lower exposure to traumatic operational events overseas. This certainly appears to be the case in QLD where a greater number of ex-military personnel reside.  This trend will continue to be monitored.


Newcastle Beacon

  1. In October I received an email approach from a social worker who works for a support organisation called Newcastle Beacon which supports first responders and veterans. She asked if the Foundation was interested in establishing a presence as part of her organisation.  I asked her a number of questions related to the level of interest, local support and funding opportunities.  I have not received a response to date and it remains in the pending box.


Program Recognition    

  1. Efforts to have the value of the program publicly recognised by the Department of Veterans Affairs have continued throughout the year. The federal member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie MP, in July, wrote to the Minister, expressing her support and encouraging the Department to do likewise.   To date, no measurable outcome has been achieved.  Sadly, an appointment with the Repatriation Commissioner Mr. Don Spinks AM which was scheduled for 16 Nov in Adelaide had to be cancelled because of new COVID infections in SA.


Trek Attendance

  1. Individuals wishing to attend treks are self-nominating. This system works with the added benefit that most who follow this practice have recognised a need and come prepared to take action to correct unhelpful behaviour. Occasionally, trekkers attend because the program is recommended by their clinician or counsellor and as an adjunct to their treatment.  This process makes sense and is preferred to the sometimes laborious alternative of individuals dealing with the various POC.  It also appears to be beneficial according to the trekkers themselves who have added the trek to their treatment regime.


Accreditation Day

  1. The Foundation will continue to run what has been termed annual accreditation training. This is now possible with open borders with all states.  Next year it will be run in SA with the support of the 4th Military District, which to date has been most supportive with accommodation before and following treks.  However, I am conscious that this may change over-night.


Operations Director Role

  1. As part of the succession, I am in the process of handing over the SA Operations Director role to Eric Ford. I will remain on as the Operations Director, reporting to the board as a member.  I publicly thank Eric for his enthusiasm and interest in veteran matters.


Supporting Staff

  1. Finally, to our staff. To Margaret who diligently maintains the Foundation books and minutes to the standard required for the annual audit, thanks.  To our staff in both states, I thank and congratulate them for their input and achievements.  To the three points of contact, whose continual attention to detail ensures our profile in the market is viewed with efficiency, thanks.   To the webmaster, Rachael located in the US, also a big thank you. The website is busy but contains a lot of information which simplifies client understanding of what we are about.  It is our window to the world.  To Dave and Jono who have contributed two years as board members and strong supporters, thanks.  We appreciate the time we have been given by two busy consultants.



  1. After 12 years I am constantly amazed at the positive behavioural changes I have witnessed in the client group over this time. I credit these improvements to the diligence and credibility of the staff together with their dedication and professional performance. The beneficiaries from these interventions extend far beyond the individuals directly affected.  I refer of course to the families, partners, and children who are suddenly blessed with having a father or mother back.  And not to overlook the communities which also gain in the broadest sense.


Moose Dunlop OAM

Operations Director

19 Nov 2019




At my invitation, the following article is written by Eric Ford to record his feelings and observations as a first-time attendee on a trek. Eric is taking over the role of Operations Director SA from me. I will remain as the Operations Director for the Foundation. This trek had a slightly different mix of attenders in that first responders, particularly firefighters, were encouraged to take part.  This gesture was in response to the dreadful fires over the summer period in SA. Six firefighters and one police officer were in the group of 12. All were from SA.


As a mental health nurse who had spent 12 years working in Ward 17 at the Repat and then at the Jamie Larcombe Centre, I have known of Trojan’s Trek for some years. I had also worked with Moose back in the 80s at the Reserve Command and Staff College at Hamstead Barracks and had been there when Dogs Kearney was the RSM. They are both essential elements of the trek.

When I retired, I contacted Moose to see if someone with my experience could be of use to the trek. He seemed to think so! So, having worked with Moose in the military, I felt ready to take part.

The trek is run at Moolooloo Station in the North Flinders Ranges of SA. It is a non-clinical adjunct to assist veterans and first responders with issues related to post-traumatic stress illness. These issues range from depression, anxiety, anger, drugs, and alcohol overuse, all of which inhibit the trekkers’ ability to function in his or her “normal” life.

The trek is a six-day bush experience with mentors and facilitators who have been trekkers themselves. As Moose would say they have walked the walk and understand the frustrations being experienced.

On arrival on day one, it was patently obvious that this group had problems. There was no eye contact and I sensed that they shared some common problems as they each introduced themselves. This was difficult for some as it was inevitable that the story of why they had joined the trek would resurface emotional responses.

Three nights in swags around a campfire would change that. Each day was filled with the delivery of sessions on subjects that inevitably struck a chord with the group. The trekkers spent time travelling in 4WD from place to place, talking, and sharing experiences and feelings with the three other passengers which included a staff member.  These periods permitted honest and frank discussion with the mentors and facilitators in the vehicle, and I suspect some had never told their story previously.

The evenings around the campfire also promoted the continuation of the frank non-judgemental sharing. Games were played in the evenings which made trekkers feel part of the group. By day three everyone appeared to be comfortable and open to the ideas and concepts put forward during the daily sessions. Each day was a cathartic experience as we moved from place to place in that beautiful ancient land. By week’s end, there was eye contact all round.

As a first-timer I was impressed with the attitude of the facilitators and mentors, knowing that they had been trekkers themselves. It was obvious that the trekkers gained from the experience with a few asking if they could come back as mentors. Does it work, this quote tells it all,

“I feel like I am about to cry but not for the usual reasons like I used to but because for the first time in as long as I can remember I am so happy so calm and so peaceful and I truly believe I have been given the tools I need to continue this journey of life outside of Trojan’s Trek.”

Certainly, I will be back, I regret that I did not put up my hand much earlier.

Eric Ford

Operations Director SA

, ,

Program Evaluation shows success of TT

Since the Trojan’s Trek program was commenced in SA in 2009 and in QLD in 2015, each participant attending is asked to complete four standard psycho-social instruments on three occasions.

This data is later independently analysed to measure outcomes by the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation in QLD for the QLD attenders, and by Flinders University staff in SA for those attenders.

The reason for this is simply to ensure that the program remains relevant and beneficial to the participants. Very few peer support programs are subject to the same scrutiny. Naturally the board and the staff are also interested in the evaluations as it provides a scientific method to gauge success. To date the results over 10 years have set new bench-marks for peer outdoor support. Following is a selection from the data analysis completed in SA for the 2018 trek.

“There was marked improvement in 100% of participants between Day 1 and Day 6 on their total DASS21 scores (reduction in scores for depression, anxiety and stress). All 11 participants who responded at the 2-3 month follow up continued to show improvement over their pre-test/day 1 scores.”

Note: The DASS 21 scores are a significant measure of individual risk as depression (one of the elements measured) is almost always present in suicide or attempts.

Change in outcome areas, pre Day 1/post: Day 6 Key: Y = Improvement, N = Decline, N minor = one difference, N/Ch = No change, N/Ch P = No change; healthy/positive initial scores, N/A or blank = Not applicable/No answer


Treks and Outcomes

  1. This year marks the ninth year of operation in SA and the third year in QLD. The foundation planned and conducted six treks during 2017.  They were as follows:
  • four treks in QLD, two during March and two in August, and
  • two treks in SA in September.

2. This was an increase of one male and two female to cater for a backlog of those wishing to attend in QLD. A total of 36 male and 26 females attended nationally.  Outcome data has not yet been completely analysed for all treks but for the three series completed, the quantitative outcomes indicate that of the twelve areas measured, in excess of 90% of the participants improved markedly in 80% of the areas measured.  This is a very good outcome and remains consistent with the Bird thesis completed in 2014. In addition to the quantitative, qualitative changes are also measured by way of an analysis of the journals completed during the week in the bush.  These in some way make much more powerful reading as they capture the trekker’s responses and thoughts to the formal and informal discussions.    The impact of credible advice from veterans who have walked the walk, delivered in tranquil, remote localities among ex-military members is truly life-changing.  I congratulate the staff in both states for the achievement of results which continue to amaze me.  Independent analysis will continue to be completed for all treks as this is the basis for the strong claims of success.

Frequency and Size

3. Six treks were conducted in 2017 which catered for 62 (36M & 26F) participants of both genders at an average of 12.4 persons per trek. This is at the lower end of the targeted average number of participants per trek than is the ideal.  Based on past experience, up to 16 trekkers can be catered for with good outcomes while achieving economy of scale.  The board will continue to monitor demand and trek numbers to ensure resources meet demand as economically as possible.  The principle of self-nomination remains as the standard ensuring that individuals are keen to try this approach in the interests of family and lifestyle as opposed to pharmacology supported by one on one counselling which is the standard.


4. The formal sessions are delivered on the trek by facilitators who are individuals who have walked the walk and are considered suitable to deliver program content. Staff training is conducted on a regular basis to maintain the number and skills required of this appointment.   The credibility and competency of the facilitators is a critical factor in the success of the program.  Ex-trekkers are also considered for the role of mentor.  This appointment not only provides an individual second top-up of the messages but injects another empathetic listener into the groups. The practice provides another conduit between trekkers and staff.

5. A train the trainer weekend will be held in Brisbane in late February 2018, dates yet to be confirmed. I anticipate this will identify and polish the skills of a number of potential facilitators for employment during 2018 and beyond.

6. This year the board contracted a part-time XO to provide a more continuous and professional presence while handling the day to day issues which arise. It was anticipated that the role would require about 50 days per year. Dr. Helen Donovan was the successful applicant and has been doing the job since March this year.


7. The amortised costs for one trek (male and female combined) are in in the vicinity of $45 to $50K depending on travel costs. This takes into account wages, insurance, hire costs, food, fuel and participant travel expenses.  As a result, there is an obvious need to continue to raise funds to support the program.  The QLD chapter has successfully arranged for on-going funding through RSL QLD and Bolton Clarke, formally RSL Care QLD.  However in SA, no on-going funding sources have been identified although RSL Care SA and Veterans SA have been generous on an annual basis, no continuity currently exists.   This year $30,819.00 was raised at the charity walk. This is the best result yet achieved and my thanks go to Reuben and staff at Adelaide Exercise Physiology for a great day.   On-going funding is an issue the board will address in 2018.


8. Partnerships are seen as advantageous to the foundation. They currently exist between RSL SA, RSL QLD, and Bolton-Clarke.  Unfortunately, the RSL SA arrangement has turned out to be non-productive as you are all aware while the others are most appreciated and productive. The foundation is also working on an MOU with Flinders University which independently analyses our trek data.   Generally speaking, the foundation has a good relationship with VVCS in SA and also Ward 17, both of which understand the value of the product and are a source of participants.  In QLD the Soldier Recovery Centre at Enoggera is aware of the program through presentations and occasionally is the source of trekkers.  The foundation relationship with DVA remains puzzling in spite of well-publicised program outcomes.  Apart from initial seed funding in 2009, the foundation has met with zero success in our applications for grants.  Because of a number of misconceptions held by some of the staff at all levels, the board has decided to address this in 2018.


9. I am pleased to announce that His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Li, AC Governor of SA, has accepted the position of Foundation Patron. This is good news and provides an imprimatur which many small not for profits seek.  I hope he will visit a trek during 2018.


There is no doubt that there is an ongoing role for programs of this nature for veterans.  The principles of POST may also be applied to other vocations.  The trek is unique, and may not suit every veteran but it is a valuable and effective adjunct to other treatment which is confirmed by independent evidence.   The efficacy of peer to peer programs is now well established in academic literature but in this country, not embraced.   Nonetheless, the Foundation will continue to support our veteran base bringing common sense and better lifestyle to partners and children.




Moose Dunlop

26 November 2017





FY 2015/16 saw treks run for men and women in SA and a male trek was run for the second time in QLD. The independent analysis of outcomes was consistently excellent with more than 80% of the trekkers improving in more than 80% of the areas measured using standard psycho-social instruments.

This year a concerted effort was made to train suitable past trekkers at a train the trainer week-end held in Adelaide in March. The object was to identify suitable individuals to take on the roles of the current staff while in the bush. This is seen as a necessary step in ensuring the program has a depth of competency which will assist in succession planning. Because the competency and credibility of those who deliver the program is vital to its ongoing success, it is critical that those selected can carry the message. The course was a follow on from the Trojan’s Trek board workshop recommendations held in June 2015.

Read more


Moose and James speak at Brownhill Creek Rotary

Report from the Brownhill Creek Weekly, the newsletter of the Brownhill Creek branch of Rotary International,

This week our speakers, Moose Dunlop and James Paterson, shared with us the work being done by Trojan’s Treks in meeting the challenges faced by those suffering from a service-induced stress illness. This illness can ruin the life of the sufferer and the lives of his or her family. It is often managed by a regime of counselling and medication which is an expensive approach.

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The Trojans Trek Foundation is a 100% not-for- profit organisation run by veterans and wholly devoted to the support of Australian’s veterans and their families.

Treks are run in SA and Qld with different programs for men and women. The treks are six day 4WD wilderness based experiences that use a combination peer support and structured discussions to help participants understand how thoughts and feelings influence behaviour and develop strategies to bring about changes in their lives and listening to James the results are very positive for the participants.

From the website http://www.trojanstrek.com/
The aim of Trojan’s Trek is to provide a setting and conditions under which participants experience a lasting positive shift in personal values and interpersonal relationships.

The objectives of the trek are to assist the participants, through group and individual challenge, achieve the following:

  1. an understanding of how thoughts and feelings influence behaviour,
  2. exposure to various strategies which will bring about positive change,
  3. individual responses which are effective in achieving goals,
  4. improving interpersonal relationships, and
  5. enhance self-esteem.