Veterans Centre | Inaugural Breaking Down the Barriers Symposium
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Inaugural Breaking Down the Barriers Symposium

Inaugural Breaking Down the Barriers Symposium

On Friday 15 March, the ‘Breaking the Barriers Symposium’ was presented by the Veterans Centre Sydney Northern Beaches and Phoenix Australia, hosted by Dee Why RSL Club. It was a unique event, bringing together Allied Health Professionals, ex-service organisation representatives, and current and former Australian Defence Force personnel and families.

The intent of the day was to provide education; firstly, current clinical mental health best practice in a holistic model of care, secondly, insights from those with a lived veteran experience; lastly, partners and friends having the difficult conversation with someone they care about, to seek help.

We received overwhelmingly positive feedback and a call for more of these events.

The day was opened by the Centre’s Chair, Mr Michael Griffin AM, Integrity Commissioner of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. Mr Griffin spoke to the importance of education and learning from each other to effectively address the challenges faced by the Veterans Community.

Phoenix Australia – Centre for post-traumatic mental health are nationally recognised for excellence in this field. Phoenix Australia representatives provided professional development sessions on:

  • Current, new and innovative evidence-based treatments for veterans
    • Nicole Sadler, Clinical Psychologist
    • Dr Phil Parker, General Practitioner

“Really enjoyed learning about medications, treatments and honesty”
“What the ANZAC Centre and Phoenix Australia do, plus resources they make available”

  • Practical strategies for problematic anger among veterans
    • Darryl Wade, Clinical Psychologist

“Useful tips on how to self-manage anger and identifying potential triggers”
“Informative – tool kits and resources for addressing anger”

  • What families, colleagues and mates need to know about mental health treatment and how to approach a veteran they are worried about
    • Ms Jane Pool, Clinical and Accredited Mental Health Social Worker
    • Dr Phil Parker, General Practitioner

“A great start but we needed longer and more those these sessions” – family member

Two former service personnel shared their stories of transition, leaving the Defence Force. While both completed warlike service, one departed one his own terms, the other was separated due to physical and psychological conditions. These were 2 very different experiences, yet shared many commonalities, the struggle to become part of their new civilian community was one. Many Allied Health Professionals thanked these presenters for the insights they gained.

“Reminded why I do what I do – Thank you” – clinical psychologist
“Great insight into mindset, culture and ongoing issues of veterans pre and post service”

The day was a resounding success! Everyone left with greater knowledge and insight to the challenges experienced by veterans and their families. Due to the success we are already in planning stages for next year’s mental health symposium.

Ben Webb
Centre Manager, Veterans Centre Sydney Northern Beaches