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Collaborating with ESOs to support veteran mental health

News, Veterans, Events

On 29 April, the Centenary of Anzac Centre hosted more than 60 people from a range of ex-service organisations (ESOs) for a day of networking, information gathering, and collaboration at the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park in Sydney.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK, AFC (Ret’d) (pictured), who is the patron of the Anzac Centre, welcomed attendees. He spoke about the vital role of services that improve social connections for veterans at risk, and stressed the importance of collaboration between services in the veteran care space.

Professor Peter Butterworth from the Australian National University gave a presentation on his latest research which shows that a person’s social circumstances are very important for their mental health outcomes. In particular, meaningful engagement in employment is vital for wellbeing and recovery from mental illness.

“Peter’s research findings link directly to the work of many ESOs who assist veterans to translate their skills and seek employment, and engage with employers to hire veterans. It was great to hear of the central role that these organisations play,” said Dr Mark Hinton, Director of the Anzac Centre’s Treatment Research Collaboration.

The remainder of the day was spent in a dialogue between the ESOs and the Anzac Centre team, exploring the needs of the ESOs and ways in which the Anzac Centre can best provide veteran expertise and services to those who work at the coalface of client delivery.

Specific ideas which came out of the day included the production of a guide for ESOs on working with veterans with mental health issues, and developing initiatives to support family members and enhance their education in mental health – acknowledging that families of veterans are key to maintaining veteran wellbeing.

“Importantly, the day was a great opportunity for collaboration with ex-service organisations to create closer links, understand their priorities, share information, and consider how we can adapt our services to meet their needs,” said Jane Nursey, Director of the Anzac Centre’s Practitioner Support Service.

We heartily thank those who gave up their valuable time to attend the forum and shared their thoughts about the future of veteran holistic support work in Australia. We hope to continue this collaboration with state-based forums in the future.