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TROJAN’S TREK QLD MARCH 2017

 

“I view this program as a lighthouse, it guides me away from the rocks.” K

Introduction

1. Trojan’s Trek Qld 2017 was conducted from 5 to 10 March on and around the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA) Range Facility at Captain’s Mountain on the Darling Downs. This is the third time the male trek has been conducted at this location and this year saw the commencement of a female trek program in Qld. This facility provides a suitable location at which to base the trek; is a mobile phone free environment and it offers a slice of early Queensland farming history along with a
remoteness which has an impact on the messages delivered. As one of the trekkers wrote, “I’ve had the most peaceful night’s sleep I have had in a long time.”

2. The trek which targets veterans from conflicts post 1980, was the third run in Queensland with locally sourced staff supported by independent funding.

Aim
3. 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.

Objectives
4. The objectives of the trek are to assist the participants, through group and individual challenge, achieve the following:
a. an understanding of how thoughts and feelings influence behaviour,
b. exposure to various strategies which will bring about positive change,
c. individual responses which are effective in achieving goals,
d. improving interpersonal relationships, and
e. enhance self-esteem.

Validation
5. In order to justify the program’s claims to successful outcomes, four standard psychosocial instruments have been administered since Trek One in 2009. They are: a. Life Satisfaction Scale (Hilda) for comparison with Australian normative data, b. Positive and Negative Interactions, c. General Perceived Self Efficacy Scale, and d. DASS 21.

6. These are completed on three occasions: a. prior to the commencement of the trek, b. Immediately following the completion of the trek, and c. two to three months later.

7. In some respects these instruments are repetitive, verging on annoying for those compiling, but efforts to identify more appropriate tools through the Psychology Faculty of UniSA and VVCS have not met with success. There are obvious benefits in maintaining use of the current measurements which can be directly compared with earlier data, therefore at this time no changes are predicted in the short term. These results will be analysed by Flinders Uni personnel and should be available for publication after about 6 weeks.

Participants
8. As in previous years, final numbers were not confirmed until two weeks before the trek. This is late but unavoidable as one of the base tenets of involvement is that the participants must volunteer to attend. Many of the participants were lacking in self-confidence and had low self-esteem. It is true that the stigma surrounding mental health exists in the community, for both male and female members. It is therefore difficult to gain an early commitment to take part in an activity which may be conducted a long way from home and from which withdrawal is difficult once commenced. In addition, because participants will probably be unknown to each other, the course of least resistance can be failure to attend. No pressure is placed on any of those who wish to be involved. The profiles of those who attended from the male’s trek are as follows:

The profiles of those who attended from the female’s trek are as follows:

Staff
11. To comply with Foundation policy of ensuring succession for key staff, a number of understudies (six females and ten males) who have attended a trek were used as facilitators and mentors. All but one had attended the Train-The-Trainer session in 2016 and this experience was to confirm their capability as facilitators and mentors. Moose Dunlop and Dogs Kearney attended as experienced mentors in support. The staff departed Brisbane a day ahead of the participants’ which afforded the opportunity for a briefing ahead of the participants arriving. The cooks had been at the facility for twenty-four hours, and had set up the kitchen and received the food delivery.

Team Composition

12. Male Trek – The local staff was comprised of eleven local staff as well as our two South Australian mentors. We had two cooks, six facilitated Trek content and the remaining five were mentors. One trekker doubled as our medic, one as our POC and one as our Qld Admin Officer.

13. Female Trek – The local team comprised of two mentors under training, with the remaining four experienced mentors travelling from SA, VIC and NSW. Two of the six mentors facilitated trek content and one was the POC and first aid trained member. The training for the mentors was suitable and they are well prepared to mentor in upcoming treks.
14. Male Trek – Only eight trekkers required accommodation prior to the Trek and one post trek as others were accommodated by staff.

15. Female Trek – Five trekkers that travelled from interstate required accommodation prior to and on completion of the trek.

Hire Vehicles
16. 4WD vehicles were hired from Fleetcrew and were found to be suitable for the role. The vehicles are used to travel from place to place in the state forest to comply with the program locations. This mode of travel offers an opportunity for one staff member to travel with three participants in each vehicle, prompting further discussion related to the presentation just concluded or in fact to any other issue which surfaces. This happens so frequently the staff refer to the practice as moving in “mobile consulting rooms.” It also affords the chance to mix different individuals and staff with an aim to maximize exposure to others’ views. This has proved to be beneficial.

Program Delivery
17. The program is reviewed regularly to ensure relevant content. A selection of subjects such as Communication, How the Brain Works, Leaving a Legacy, Victim to Warrior and others are delivered by a male and female facilitators with key sessions provided by our two senior facilitators. Experience and personal contributions were provided by the mentors.

Recruitment
17. As previously indicated, participants are self-nominating. However, it is important to gain approval from their treating doctor to ensure that the individuals attending will benefit. This was achieved as part of the nomination process by the submission of a form signed by the participant’s doctor.

Organization
18. The organization for Trojan’s Trek Qld 2017 was:
Moose Dunlop – Program Director (Qld)/Facilitator
Peter Keith – Program Director (Qld)/Facilitator
Brett Van der Heide – Team Leader/Admin Officer/Mentor
Tim Stevens – POC/Mentor
Robert ‘Dogs’ Kearney – Senior Facilitator
Amy Vickers – Team Leader/Facilitator/ Mentor
Michael Harding – Senior Facilitator/mentor
Lee Bailey – Mentor/ facilitator
Vannessa Patterson – Mentor
Amanda Kaplan – Mentor
Tiffany Ahuja – Mentor/Facilitator
David Walker – Medic/facilitator
Trevor Hewitt – Chef
Suz Baker – POC/Mentor
Brad Coleman – Chef
Ramon Fenton – Mentor/Chaperone
Sally Dunlop – Secretary
Greg Seymour – Chaperone/mentor
Paul Randall – Facilitator
Zen Spokes – Mentor

Visitors
19. The Trekkers were joined for lunch on the last day of the trek by Brad Skinner who fills the position of ………………from RSL Qld. It provided an opportunity for one of our sponsors to gain a sense of what the participants gain from the experience and be informed on additional services provided by RSL Qld.

Transport
20. Transport requirements for the trek were as follows:
a. One coach to carry the participants and one staff member to Captain’s Mountain.
b. Seven 4WD vehicles were hired with one being a dual-cab. These were supplemented by two 4WDs owned by the staff. The Qld Chapter has purchased an enclosed trailer which is used to carry the equipment and swags for the participants.
c. At the conclusion of the trek, staff and participants returned to Brisbane in the hired 4WD vehicles.

Purchases
21. For this trek it was necessary to purchase equipment. Swags, camp chairs, water containers, crockery and cutlery, wire, gloves etc. were bought for the female trek. Tools such as shovels, chainsaw and UHF radios were also bought. All equipment is now stored and managed by Brett van der Heide.

Partners
22. A document aimed at informing partners about the trek was produced and provided to some partners at the start of the trek. This was the second time this has been done and the anecdotal feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The document provides context as well as FAQ’s about how best to support themselves and their partner on return.

Location
23. The trek established a base at the SSAA Range Base which is 20 km West of Millmerran on the Gore Highway. The property occupies approximately 400 acres of country which varies in type and relief from east to west. The distance to the area of the trek is approximately 300 km from Brisbane. Travelling these distances is time consuming and expensive in fuel, but the advantages in having no mobile telephone, television or radio reception more than offset the disadvantages of travel. A trip of this duration also permits the participants to get to know each other en-route. The feedback from the participants on the location is positive.

Journals
24. The use of a period set aside daily to complete individual journals has proved to be an important element for participants. The journals are used to record personal responses to the various lessons of the day and to make general comment on the trek. This has proved to be satisfactory from the point of view of progressive comment and also provides an opportunity to collectively review and anchor the day’s lessons. Although these comments are qualitative they do represent the perceptions of the participants at the time and are not always strictly in accord with the quantitative measurements gained via the psycho-social instruments. Although some may see this as conflicting evidence, it is more likely to be a limitation of the tools used to measure change. In any case, the journals are a valuable source of current participant responses at the time.

Program Content
25. The messages which are conveyed during the trek are related to relationships and behavior management. Simple subjects; but the style and method of delivery combined with the surroundings make the messages much more powerful. There is no doubt that the live-in nature of the trek when shared with other veterans is a significant factor in the success of the program.

Staff Debrief
26. Staff feedback has been sought and has provided some excellent suggestions for next year’s Trek.

Internal Evaluation
27. On the last night of the trek a ’tick and flick’ survey was issued and completed by the participants. The questions were aimed at an immediate response to the trek and were primarily designed to gauge how the course was conducted, the efficiency of the administration as well as an opportunity to comment on the content

Communications
28. Telephone. Mobile telephones operate intermittently during the trek. Telephone communications were available via the base telephone. A satellite telephone was available in the bush if an emergency arose. It was not used.
29. Radio. While in the bush, UHF CB hand held and vehicle mounted UHF radios were used for communications.

Medical
30. A doctor was not required for this trek because the nearest fully equipped hospital is at Millmerran, approximately half an hour away. First line medical support was provided by a number of other staff who are qualified in First Aid. senior first aiders. The longest exposure to the most serious risk was assessed as traffic accidents during the trip to and from Captain’s Mountain. No medical or psychiatric issues arose.

Staff
31. The delivery of the male program was the joint responsibility of the Chief Instructor Robert Kearney and civilian consultant Peter Keith. Their collective credibility and insight made for interesting and varied sessions which carry a common message presented in a unique way in a different environment. The delivery of the female program was the responsibility of the Team Leader Amy Vickers. This trek was again utilized to provide training for other past trekkers who are part of the succession plan. All mentors performed well. This year six under-study members facilitated key pieces of program content as part of the succession strategy.

32. In the opinion of the participants, the lessons and program outcomes appear to be more effective when delivered by a veteran as opposed to clinician in consulting rooms. This is completely in accord with the philosophy on which the trek is based; that is older veterans helping younger veterans. In other words, the tribal elders provide advice and encouragement to the young. This approach has been adopted over many thousands of years by other civilizations and in today’s society is adopted by alcoholics and gamblers.

33. The tenor of the week is relaxed yet highly focused on outcomes. This comes as a surprise to most of the participants whose expectations are for a course run along military lines. This is the antithesis of the practice.

34. The inclusion of civilian expertise provides a balance to the military presence. They deliver sessions linked to their expertise and are skilled in providing advice and encouragement in a form which is perceived differently to that provided by the veterans. The balance is fine but necessary to gain the confidence of the attendees. All of these members have been instrumental in providing follow-up advice which in a number of cases has resulted in job placement. The gains from their inclusion are manifold.

Follow-up
35. This aspect of the experience is important if the impact of the trek is to be maximized. It also would be beneficial if an organization with greater resources could become actively involved in follow-up.

Conclusion
37. There is no doubt that the isolation and the live-in nature of the trek are powerful catalysts in conveying opinions and promoting disarming honest comment from all concerned. Sustained by the opinion of strong anecdotal evidence, the trek was an outstanding success; this comment applies to both male and female versions. However, the realization that behavior affects relationships and behavior modification may offer an answer to an unsatisfactory personal life is just the start. In the opinions of the participants, they have universally achieved a number of goals and leave equipped to face the challenge. By their own admission, not only have the participants faced and discussed their problems frankly among the other attendees and staff, many have formed relationships which are based on personal and common problems.

38. For some this is the commencement of a long journey; understanding and further help will assist in their arriving at a better place. The real test will be to carry the determination into each individuals’ domain and anchor that in their lives. It is desirable that participants form a mental strong point to which they can retreat before consolidation and continuation. It is this aspect of the total picture which requires much greater external support and follow-up from existing supporting networks.

39. One of the discoveries which more than half of the group became aware of was that they and their families have lived through personal problems thinking they were alone in their pain and frustration. All of the participants exchanged email addresses and intend to maintain contact and provide advice and assistance to each other. This internal bonding is proving most valuable in their respective journeys.

40. Both the participants and staff believe that there is an ongoing role for programs of this nature for veterans. The principles may also be applied to other vocations. The trek may not suit every veteran but it is a valuable and effective adjunct to other treatment. 41. The female program was a success and will continue to run alongside future programmed male treks providing sufficient participants can be identified. 42. Further information about the Foundation and trek is available on the web site at www.trojanstrek.com.

 

 

 

Peter Keith QLD Program Director, March 2017.

Distribution:
TT Board Members (8)
TT staff
Chairman RSL Care Qld
CEO RSL Qld
Marketing Manager, RSL Qld
CEO RSL Care Qld
CEO Mates4Mates
Secretary of RARC, Ted Chitham MC

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REPORT TO AGM 2016

 

Preamble

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

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YOUNG VETERAN’S SUPPORT WALK

This year we had 27 sponsors and 189 walkers register, a great result and thanks to you all for your support. However the weather was not being friendly. In short it looked grim with an on-going poor prediction.

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Participants gather for Veterans’ Support Walk

Thanks to AEP the day was organised down to the last tee. Many thanks go to AEP staff and Reuben for his work again this year.

The start time this year was later than in previous years, managing to catch out a few regulars who arrived very early. By the time Peter Goers had completed his humorous off- beat comments about life in general the black clouds had gathered menacingly. Not to be deterred off they went at 1030 on a slightly amended route which resulted from part of the Torrens Lake track being affected by the recent rains.

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Report on the 2016 SA and QLD Treks

From: Lieutenant Colonel Moose Dunlop OAM (Retd) 0408 088 886  moose@trojanstrek.com

Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 11.04.21 amREPORT QLD AND SA 2016

Introduction
1. This report covers the QLD and SA treks. Trojan’s Trek QLD was conducted from 8 to 13 May on, and around the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA) Range Facility at Captain’s Mountain on the Darling Downs. This facility provides a very suitable location at which to base the trek. It is also a generally free mobile phone free environment. It offers a slice of early Queensland history and a remoteness which has an impact on the messages delivered. The QLD trek was the second run in that state resulting from a satisfactory pilot program run in 2015. The date for the QLD trek was brought forward to give a more even calendar spread for the treks.

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Original Tiger Chips In

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 2.53.59 pmBrian Budden ex 9 Section, 9 Platoon, C Coy, 5 RAR SVN 1966 – 67 attended a 50th reunion with his mates in Perth in July 2016, a watershed moment for Trojan’s Trek. Little did I know but Brian had been “following the work of the Trojan’s Trek Foundation for some considerable time” and was impressed with what was being achieved. As a gesture of his support Brian donated a large amount of money to assist “the future success of the Foundation”.

I therefore publicly extend the thanks of the Foundation to Brian and wish him well with his commercial endeavours with Rebel Graphics.

Moose Dunlop OAM, Project Director, Trojan’s Trek.

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2016 QLD Trojan’s Trek – Men Outcome Data Report

There were eleven participates in the 2016 QLD Men’s Trojan’s Trek. For the purpose of this report, their questionnaire responses on four measures (Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale -DASS21, General Self- Efficacy Scale, Life Satisfaction Scale and the Positive and Negative Interactions Scale, See Table 1) were scored and analysed to measure quantitative change in mental health and wellbeing indicators from Day 1 and Day 6.

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All of the participants (100%) showed a positive change between Day 1 and Day 6 on their total DASS21 scores (reduction in scores for depression, anxiety and stress). All but one participant showed an increase in self-efficacy.

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Overall life satisfaction improved for all participants, and all showed an increase in satisfaction with mental health and sleep. Nine of the eleven participants (82%) showed an increase in satisfaction with feeling part of the community; the other three participants’ results remained stable. Ten of the eleven participants showed an increase in perception of positive interactions with friends and family, and increase in positive perception of spouse relationships was seen for all participants in a relationship. Satisfaction with relationships with children improved for seven of the eleven participants, while two remained stable. Results for each measure are outlined below in greater detail.

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Of note, five participants showed clinically significant reduction in all areas measured: stress, anxiety and depression severity. A sixth person showed significant reduction in stress severity, and another showed reduction in depression to clinical levels and another two participants showed significant reductions in both depression and stress, as highlighted in Table 2.

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On average, participant scores changed from severe anxiety, stress and depression on Day 1, to normal level anxiety, stress and depression scores by Day 6. At Day 1 scores were well above the average for the general population and by Day 6 became well below the average, see Table 3.

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Self-efficacy
As outlined in Figure 2, ten participants showed an increase in their self-efficacy scores and one participants’ scores remained stable. The average self-efficacy score was similar to that of the general population at Day 1, and above the general population at Day 6, see Table 4.

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Life Satisfaction
Overall satisfaction with life increased from Day 1 to Day 6 for all participants, and satisfaction increased in all areas measured; see Table 5. Participants’ life satisfaction in all areas was below that of the general population at Day 1, and above that of the general population at Day 6. Selected results for life satisfaction are shown in Figure 3; ten participants experienced an increase in overall life satisfaction between Day 1 and Day 6, nine participants showed an increase in satisfaction with mental health, and ten showed an increase in feeling part of the community and increased satisfaction with sleep.

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Relationships
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On average, perception of positive interactions with friends, family and spouses increased between Day 1 and Day 6. This scale (the Positive and Negative Interactions Scale) measures participants’ perception of how well they feel their relationships are going. Taking results from the Life Satisfaction Questionnaires, all participants who had a spouse indicated improvement with their satisfaction with their relationship except for one participant whose scores remained high and stable. Seven participants showed improvement in satisfaction with their relationship with their children, with two participant’s scores remaining stable and two others showing a slight score reduction, see Figure 4.

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References
DASS21: Lovibond, S. & Lovibond, P. (2004). Manual for the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (2nd Ed). University of New South Wales: Sydney.
Positive and Negative Interactions Scale: Schuster T. L., Kessler, R.C., & Aseltine, R. H. Jr (1990). Supportive interactions, negative interactions and depressed mood. American Journal of Community Psychology, 18, 423-438.
Self-Efficacy Scale: Schwarzer, R., & Jerusalem, M. (1995). Generalized Self-Efficacy scale. In J. Weinman, S. Wright, & M. Johnston. Measures in health psychology: A user’s portfolio. Causal and control beliefs. 35- 37. Windsor, England: NFER-NELSON.
Life Satisfaction Scale information: Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (2010, February). Evaluation of Trojan’s Trek: Final report. Retrieved from http://www.trojanstrek.com/wp- content/uploads/2011/04/Trojans-Trek-Final-Report-2010.pdf
Note: See Participant Snapshot for an overview of where areas of change were for each participant.

Data analysis and report completed by Kendall Bird for Trojan’s Trek

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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.
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Watch our new video

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Trojan’s Trek Reports – QLD & SA

From: Lieutenant Colonel Moose Dunlop OAM (Retd) 0408 088 886 moose@trojanstrek.com web www.trojanstrek.com

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“If I wasn’t here, I know I would not live to see Xmas.” Trekker

 

TROJAN’S TREK (QLD AND SA) 2015

Introduction

1. This report covers the Qld and SA treks. The Qld trek was conducted from 9 to 14 August and was the first run in that state. It was conducted as a pilot program to ascertain the viability of future treks. In SA, the male and female treks ran from 20 to 25 September.   A number of staff from SA travelled to Qld to assist with the initial trek conduct. The longer term intention is to train and employ staff from Qld to make that operation self-supporting.

2. For the second year, the SA treks included a female version which was conducted concurrently but separately to the male. This year reinforced our earlier experience with the female team, confirming that females are not as flexible in terms of overnight stays, preferring strongly to have access to showers and flushing toilets. This can be managed but does cause issues with staff movement from the male to the female team to present. This aspect will be covered later in this report.

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3. The bush in SA was looking good having had about 70 mm of rain in the preceding month. Surface water was present in some creeks. The bush in Qld was dry although normal for that time of year.

 

Aim

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:

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

6. These objectives have been reviewed and remain valid. The philosophy backing the trek is one which enables successful condition self-management resulting from changes in participant perception. This in turn changes behaviour and personal interaction in a positive way, and although these objectives appear simple in concept, the successful delivery depends heavily on the credibility of the advice given. Therefore the part played by the staff in the process cannot be over-emphasised.

Validation

7. In order to justify the program’s claims to successful outcomes, four standard psychosocial instruments were again used to measure outcomes.

They are:

  • Life Satisfaction Scale (Hilda) for comparison with Australian normative data,
  • Positive and Negative Interactions,
  • General Perceived Self Efficacy Scale, and
  • DASS 21.

8. These are completed on three occasions:

  • prior to the commencement of the trek,
  • Immediately following the completion of the trek, and
  • two to three months later.

Attendance

9. A total of thirty participants attended the treks. The breakdown was as follows:Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 10.26.51 am

10. The number attending the male trek in Qld was fewer than expected, the target figure being twelve. A better response is predicted for future treks.

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11. Four serving members from 7 RAR attended the male SA trek as well as one ex NSW police officer. This is the third police officer who has attended a trek. His inclusion was due to a personal approach from his sister. Initial feedback has indicated that he benefitted significantly.
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12. All services were represented among the female attendees. For the second year, HMAS Albatross at Nowra nominated a past trekker to attend. Realising the benefits which result from trek attendance, the navy paid for travel from Nowra. Her contribution was valuable and appreciated.

Staff

13. Qld. Providing sufficient competent staff for the Qld trek proved to be challenging. To resolve this Dogs Kearney and Moose Dunlop flew from SA to take part in the trek. As well two members, who were camp and kitchen staff, travelled by road from SA carrying the swags and some additional cooking gear.

14. SA. The SA trek is more difficult to staff. There are two teams which operate some distance apart and two of the male facilitators are used to present material to both. This is problematic as travelling times are slow and teams are denied some of their staff for varying periods. This problem is being addressed by embarking on a program to train female facilitators to enable them to present sessions which the males have presented to date. This will occur early in the New Year.

Weather

15. The weather during both treks was as anticipated and predicted. The Millmerran area was subjected to below zero morning temperatures.

Funding

16. The funds for the 2015 treks were raised in both SA and Qld and devoted to activities in the respective states.

a. SA. The SA treks were funded from a number of sources. Each year the foundation conducts a major fund raiser with the Veterans’ Support Walk in October. These funds were complimented by a number of other organisations and corporations as well as individuals. This year a $10K gant was secured from SA Health to support the initiative.

b. Qld. The Qld trek was funded by RSL Care and RSL Qld who have been aware for 3 years of the successful outcomes achieved by the program. Their financial support has been secured into the future.

Movement

17. Transport requirements to and during the treks were as follows:

    • One 13 seat bus to carry the team and one staff supervisor to Captain’s Mountain, the start point.
    • Six vehicles (3 x 4 WD vehicles and 3 x AWD Vehicles) were hired for the duration of the trek. These were supplemented by a Hilux 4WD owned by one of the mentors. The vehicle with the enclosed trailer was driven from South Australia.
    • At the conclusion of the trek, staff and participants returned to Brisbane in the 4 WD vehicles.
    • Two 22 seat buses to carry the two teams and one staff supervisor per bus to Moolooloo HS.
    • Eleven 4 WD vehicles; two towing a covered and an enclosed trailer, and one towing an uncovered trailer. These were also used to transport the staff to Moolooloo HS.
    • At the conclusion of the trek, staff and participants returned to Adelaide in the 4WD vehicles.

18. The insurance excess which applies to hire vehicles in the case of accident remains a matter of concern. In spite of a payment of $33 per day per vehicle to reduce the insurance excess to the minimum in the case of accident, the excess remains at $2,500 (single vehicle accident) and $550 (multiple vehicles).

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19. Qld. The trek location is approximately 300 km west of Brisbane. The base was established at the SSAA Range complex which is 20 km west of Millmerran on the Gore Highway. The facility is well presented, has a full time curator, an industrial kitchen, dams and with a capability to cater for about 200 people. The property occupies approximately 400 acres which varies in type and relief from north to south. The property adjoins a national park and state owned forest covering a further 30,000 hectares to which the trek had unfettered access. The hiring arrangements with SSAA are most agreeable.

 

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20. SA. The trek established a base at Moolooloo HS Shearers’ Quarters which is 32 km NE of Parachilna on the Glass Gorge Road. The station occupies approximately 540 square miles of country which varies in type and relief from east to west. The distance to the area of the trek is approximately 520 km from Adelaide. Travelling these distances is time consuming and expensive in fuel, but the advantages in having no mobile telephone, television or radio reception more than offset the disadvantages of travel. A trip of this duration also permits the participants to get to know each other en-route. The feedback from the participants on the location is positive.

Publicity

21. A press release prior to each trek was issued through the RSL. The ABC SE Qld attended the Qld trek and a sensitive TV report went to air. In SA the Sunday show on ABC 891 carried an interview with the Project Director.

Journals

22. The use of a period set aside daily to complete individual journals has proved to be an important element for participants. The journals are used to record personal responses to the various lessons of the day and to make general comment on the trek. This has proved to be satisfactory from the point of view of progressive comment and also provides an opportunity to collectively review and anchor the day’s lessons. Although these comments are qualitative they do represent the perceptions of the participants at the time and are not always strictly in accord with the quantitative measurements gained via the psychosocial instruments listed at paragraph 7.

23. The messages which are conveyed during the trek are related to relationships and behavior management. Simple subjects; but the style and method of delivery combined with the surroundings make the messages much more powerful. There is no doubt having read the journals, that the live-in nature of the trek when shared with other veterans is a significant factor in the success of the program.

Medical

24. A doctor was not available in either state on this occasion but this was not considered a problem. Adequate coverage was provided as follows:

a. Qld. The nearest fully equipped hospital is at Millmerran, approximately half an hour away by road from the base. First line medical support was provided by an ex-defence force medical member. A number of other staff are also qualified as senior first aiders. The longest exposure to the most serious risk was assessed as traffic accidents during the trip to and from Captain’s Mountain. No medical or psychiatric issues arose.

b. SA. The nearest fully equipped hospital is at Hawker, approximately 1.2 hours away. First line medical support was provided by a Victorian Ambulance Para-medic. He reported with his own vehicle and equipment. A number of other staff are also qualified as senior first aiders. The longest exposure to the most serious risk was assessed as traffic accidents during the trip to and from Moolooloo. No medical or psychiatric issues arose.

Program Delivery

25. Program content in both states is the responsibility of the Project Director, Moose Dunlop. The delivery of the male program and most aspects of the female program is the joint responsibility of the Chief Instructor Dogs Kearney and civilian consultants Peter Keith and Andrew Badenoch. Additionally a number of female centric topics were presented to the female team by the two female facilitators, Connie Jongeneel and Anna Sutcliffe. These treks again utilized the opportunity to provide further training for other past trekkers who are part of the succession plan. A female RAN member who previously attended as a trekker attended 2015 as a mentor. It is hoped her involvement will continue.

26. In the opinion of the participants, the lessons and program outcomes appear to be more effective when delivered by a veteran as opposed to clinician in consulting rooms. This is completely
In accord with the philosophy on which the trek is based; that is veterans helping veterans with oversight of the tribal elders. This approach has been adopted over many thousands of years by other civilizations.

27. The tenor of the week is relaxed yet highly focused on outcomes. This comes as a surprise to most of the participants whose expectations are for the experienec run along military lines. This is the antithesis of the practice.

28. The inclusion of two civilian experts provides a balance to the military presence. They deliver sessions linked to their expertise and are skilled in providing advice and encouragement in a form which is perceived differently to that provided by the veterans. The balance is fine but necessary to gain the confidence of the attendees. The gains from their inclusion are manifold.

Communications

29. Telephone. Mobile telephones do not operate north of Hawker and are patchy in the Captain’s Mountain area. However, telephone communications are available via a landline at the Shearer’s Quarters and at the SSAA Complex at Captain’s Mountain. A satellite telephone was available in the bush during both treks if an emergency arose. It was not used.

30. Radio. While in the bush, UHF CB hand held and vehicle mounted radios were used for communications on simplex. Duplex on Channel 3 is also available at Moolooloo for contact at greater distances by UHF.

Conclusion

31. There is no doubt that the isolation and the live-in nature of the trek are powerful catalysts in conveying opinions and promoting disarming honest comment from all concerned. Sustained by the opinion of strong anecdotal evidence, the trek was an outstanding success; this comment applies to both male and female versions. However, the realization that behavior affects relationships and behavior modification may offer an answer to an unsatisfactory personal life is just the start. In the opinions of the participants, they have universally achieved a number of goals and leave equipped to face the challenge. By their own admission, not only have the participants faced and discussed their problems frankly among the other attendees and staff, many have formed relationships which are based on personal and common problems.

32. For some this is the commencement of a long journey; understanding and further help will assist in their arriving at a better place. The real test will be to carry the determination into each individual’s domain and anchor that in their lives. It is desirable that participants form a mental strong point to which they can retreat before consolidation and continuation. It is this aspect of the total picture which requires much greater external support and follow-up from existing supporting networks.

33. One of the discoveries which more than half of the group became aware of was that they and their families have lived through personal problems thinking they were alone in their pain and frustration. All of the participants exchanged email addresses and intend to maintain contact and provide advice and assistance to each other. This internal bonding is proving most valuable in their respective journeys

34. Both the participants and staff believe that there is an ongoing role for programs of this nature for veterans. The principles may also be applied to other vocations. The trek may not suit every veteran but it is a valuable and effective adjunct to other treatment.

35. Further information about the Foundation and trek is available on the web site at www.trojanstrek.com.

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Moose Dunlop
Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) OAM
Program Director

20 October 2015

Distribution: TT Board Members
TT staff
Minister for Veterans’ SA
CEO, RSL SA
Director VVCS Adelaide
President RAR Assoc SA
Secretary RARC Ted Chitham MC