Commander 1st Division/Deployable Joint Force Headquarters address to the 2016 Wattle Day High Tea
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The Honourable Mr Peter Wellington, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, Ms Jen Howard MP Assistant Minister for Local Govt and Communities, AIRCDRE Scott Winchester, Mr Jamie Zimmerman, MR Mike Gilmour Chair of Open Minds, Ms Marie Fox, CEO of Open minds, Mr Dan Keighran VC Mr Doug and Mrs Kaye Baird, Board Members, friends colleagues and open minds staff.
I do not have to tell the people in this room just how wicked the problem of mental health and its treatment is.
There is no inoculation, no vaccine and no panacea. Each case has unique aspects. Treatment must be tailored individually. While the wider community might wish this was not so and demand quick fixes, most who are involved closely understand the scale of the battle.
The Australian Defence Force and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs have had a bit of bad press lately about a purported lack of commitment to our wounded, ill and injured. I might just take a couple of moments to outline some of the things we are doing in this space.
Our people are very important to us. Anyone who does not think that has not served. There are a raft of dedicated and wonderful people working really hard to make a difference in the lives of afflicted soldiers, sailors, airmen and women and their families.
Since 2009 Defence has spent over $201 Million on Australian Defence Force Mental Health Initiatives. There is an Australian Defence Force Mental Health and Wellbeing plan that sits across a range of diverse initiatives. Some of which are:
- the New Project Restore, the Suicide prevention program, the Soldier Recovery centre program, and
- the Keep your mates safe peer support program and the pre-emptive RESET program.
We are making progress in de-stigmatising Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and mental health issues in general. We are helping a lot of people who put their hand up to be helped. But as we have already discussed – the problem is wicked. There is no inoculation, no vaccine and no panacea. When you think you are making progress it turns on you. Fixing it is beyond any single organisation.
That is why Openminds is such an important organisation. Since it was formed in 1912 it has been leading the way in changing the way the Community must think and act about mental health and disability. It has been helping rather than judging.
Openminds and the coalition of agencies here today allow different approaches and individually tailored treatments. They allow the diversity of treatment methodologies that are needed to resolve mental health problems. They add layers of care and treatment and options that are simply not available within large bureaucratic institutions – no matter how much they might care.
I am honoured to be able to speak at today’s Wattle Day High Tea and on behalf of the soldiers and their families that have been helped by Openminds can I please thank you for your efforts up until now and pledge our support to you into the future.