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TROJAN’S TREK SOUTH AUSTRALIA SEPTEMBER 2022

Introduction

1. The 2022 SA trek was conducted for the first time at Alpana station from 18 to 23 Sep.  Staff deployed on 17 Sep to set up. This change follows the tenuous relationship with the new owners of Moolooloo, which resulted in finding a new base on Alpana. It marks the 14th year of running treks in SA. A reconnaissance of the new station was completed from 2 to 4 April 22 by 9 staff.  The program was rewritten to accommodate the new location.

Aim

2. Trojan’s Trek aims are to provide a setting and conditions under which participants experience a lasting and positive shift in personal values and interpersonal relationships.

Objectives

3. The objectives of the trek are to assist the participants through group and individual challenges, 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,

• improve interpersonal relationships, and

• enhance self-esteem.

Alpana

4. The station meets the program requirements, although the country does not contain places of general interest like Nuccaleena. However, it offers the following advantages over Moolooloo:

• 5 km south of Blinman town,

• Bitumen road access to the station,

• Continuous electric power generated in Blinman,

• Kitchen facilities superior to Moolooloo,

• Cool room available

• Hire rate negotiated to the same rate as Moolooloo, and

• Owners happy with our objectives

5. The Trek was advertised to include first responders such as volunteer firefighters, ambulance officers, and police officers who have been exposed to traumatic situations in the line of their duties.  It is the third time the Foundation has conducted a trek targeting first responders.  This was a change in approach to the previous practice when first responders were taken, but more by exception.

Attendance

6. Eleven trekkers and ten staff attended the SA trek as follows:

7. Four ex-military attended, and two Victorians made up the group to 11. The group included 4 women, an aspect which was an advantage in sharing what may be different male/female opinions.

Accommodation 

8. Keswick Barracks provided accommodation for interstate and out-of-town trekkers. This again worked well thanks to Paul Wilton the POC and the support of the Chief of Staff 9 Bde.  The following events impacted arrival times for those requiring accommodation:

a. The Overland train arrival was delayed by 5 hours due to a tree falling across the line at Bridgewater, affecting the two Victorians’ arrival time,

b. The ferry from KI was cancelled due to poor weather. The member affected decided to fly, which ensured his arrival in time to catch the bus, and

c. The City to Bay caused Anzac Highway to be closed on Sunday morning, resulting in a circuitous route to enter the barracks.

9. Despite this, all managed to catch the bus, which departed on Sunday morning at 0800 hrs. The bus was hired self-drive, driven by two volunteers.

Vehicles

10. Eight 4WD vehicles were required for the trek. This number is needed as the staff deploy a day early, and the vehicles which are used during the Trek carry all back to Adelaide.  Six vehicles were hired from Complete Ute and Vehicle Hire at 50% of normal rates, a deal that the Foundation has with the owner Rob Davey. Rob has provided this support since 2014, saving approximately $680 per vehicle hire. Two vehicles were also loaned at no cost by Pioneer Tanks. The owner Tim Harper has supported the Foundation in this way since 2015, saving approximately $7,000 over time. An extra driver was required to ferry one hire vehicle to Alpana. The driver returned to Adelaide on the bus.

11. One vehicle sustained a broken windscreen on the way up, and one tyre was damaged during the trek.

Program

12. The program is reviewed regularly to ensure relevant content. The messages conveyed during the trek relate to relationships and understanding cognitive strategies for behavior management.  A selection of topics, including How the Brain Works, Leaving a Legacy, Victim to Warrior and Communications were delivered.   The style and method of delivery, combined with the surroundings, make the messages much more powerful.   This is further enhanced by the group sharing personal experiences.

13. Daily journals also provide useful insight into the program’s power and how participants understand the content. The simple benefit gained from reconnecting with other sufferers cannot be overstated. This is in accordance with the philosophy of the trek, which is based on shared first-hand experience.

Victuals

14. The non-perishable food for the trek is collected over a 2 to 3-month period by the chefs. Cheap prices drive their purchases. In addition to those savings, the following are suppliers who assist the foundation from year to year, depending on their situation

a. 60 dozen eggs from Blewitt Springs Egg Farm, Don and Laura Fell,

b. $150 worth of fine meats from Holco, Duncan Booth,

c. 20 kg of potatoes from SA Potato Company,

d. 25 kg of sausages from Stirling Variety Meats, Chris, and

e. $20 voucher and a box of mushrooms from Hallett Cove Coles.

Weather

15. The weather during the trek was generally fine, except on Tuesday afternoon, a very heavy shower released 23 mm of rain in the area resulting in a wall of water descending the Wokerawirra Creek.

Water rushes down a dry creek bed during a flash flood.

Assessment   

16. Following the trek, the trekkers were sent a trek evaluation sheet which is enclosed. Their comments and ratings are combined on the enclosure.  In short, all benefitted from the trek through their own evaluations.

Goal Achievement Scaling (GAS)

17. This trek again saw the use of the evaluation system introduced in April 2021 as a pilot called Goal Attainment Setting (GAS).  The concept involves trekkers setting their own goals and also setting enabling goals to achieve the outcomes they want from life.  Goal setting is important for recovery because it can motivate the individual, particularly when they are functional and directly relate to real-life activities.  Its use will be retained.

Conclusion

18. The trek was successful in terms of feedback from those attending. The group worked well and quickly adjusted to the theme of non-judgemental in their discussions which were frank and honest.  As indicated earlier, four women attended as part of the group, and their presence enhanced the discussion.  Over the last three years, the mixing of gender has been adopted and has proved to be successful.

 

Moose, signature

 

 

 

 

 

Moose Dunlop OAM
Trek Commander
27 Oct 2022

 

Distribution:

TT Board Members
President RAR Assoc SA
Repatriation Commissioner
CEO RSL Care
Minister for Veterans’ SA
President CFS VA
Minister for Emergency services SA
Chief Officer CFS
SA Police Association for Mark Carroll
DC DVA Adelaide
Veterans SA
Catherine Hutchesson CFS VA
Member for Mayo
DGO3 Mt Lofty Group
Staff

Enclosure. 1:  Trekker Evaluation Combined

 

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OPERATIONS DIRECTOR ANNUAL REPORT 1 DEC 2022

Introduction
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.

Alpana
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.

Accreditation
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.

Finances
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. 

Acknowledgments
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.

 Patron
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.

Conclusion
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