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Forum shines a light on PTSD

Photo: Forum shines a light on PTSD
Leading figures in the field of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will gather in Brisbane today for a forum aimed at unlocking better ways to treat the debilitating condition. Hundreds of doctors, nurses, emergency workers, veterans and researchers will attend the PTS17 Forum at the Brisbane Convention and

Exhibition Centre today and tomorrow (September 8 and 9). Military personnel, academics and psychiatrists from the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, New Zealand and throughout Australia will present the latest findings and insights with Federal Veterans’ Affairs Minister Dan Tehan to officially open the conference this morning. PTS17 Forum coordinator Tony Dell said more than 1.4 million Australians were diagnosed with PTSD it was not only veterans who suffered. “PTSD is commonly associated with the defence forces, but it also affects many first responders such as police, firefighters, ambulance and paramedic personnel, emergency services and medical professionals,” said Mr Dell.
“It can also affect victims of crime, accidents and natural disasters.”

Brisbane nurse and Queensland University of Technology paramedic science lecturer Kerri-Ann Welch said families also found it difficult to cope when a loved one was battling PTSD.

Ms Welch will present preliminary findings at the forum of her study into factors most likely to promote resilience in intimate relationships both during and after Australian Army personnel are deployed to war zones.

A nurse in the Australian Army for five years and the primary carer for her husband who has PTSD, Ms Welch said little was available to help couples and families prepare their relationships for deployment and their return home.

“Couples who are already struggling with trying to settle into a post-deployment life can see this really start to tear at the fabric of their relationship,” Ms Welch said.

Toowong Private Hospital Clinical Director and psychiatrist Dr Andrew Khoo said more support was needed for veterans in the transition phase, when they moved from service to a civilian life.

“Transition often means the loss of a career, the loss of identity and the loss of a community and a lifestyle,” Dr Khoo said.

RSL Queensland State President Stewart Cameron CSC said the charity had invested more than $7 million into PTSD research with one study focusing specifically on the challenges of transition.

“It is vitally important that we stage events like the PTS17 Forum because it not only provides an opportunity to share research and insights, but it also makes us more aware of the impact PTSD can have on people in our community,” Mr Cameron said.

A string of sporting celebrities is lending their support to the forum with several cricketing and rugby personalities to attend the gala dinner, to be held tonight.

Mr Dell, a former cricketer who was diagnosed with PTSD 40 years after returning home from serving in Vietnam, said former cricket captains Ian Chappell, Greg Chappell and Allan Border along with former bowler Jeff Thomson and former wicket keeper Ian Healy would all be attending the dinner.

Former test rugby captains Nick-Farr Jones and Andrew Slack as well as Olympic gold medallist Libby Trickett would also attend.

Mr Dell said he formed the advocacy group StandTall4PTS to raise awareness of the disorder and fight for better treatments. 

“The PTS17 Forum was born from a promise – a promise that we won’t forget the millions of Australians living with PTSD and we will continue to work with everyone we possibly can to find solutions together,” he said.

PTS17 Forum speakers include:
  • Dan Tehan MP, Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs (8.30am speech)
  • Constable Daryl Elliott Green, Qld Police Service (shot twice in line of duty)
  • Professor Sandy McFarlane, University of Adelaide Centre for Trauma Stress Studies Director
  • Todd Wehr, Qld Ambulance Services executive manager
  • Dr Madeline Romaniuk, psychiatrist and Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation researcher
  • Kerri-Ann Welch, former Australian Army nurse and QUT researcher
  • Tony Dell, StandTall4PTS founder and Vietnam veteran
  • Stewart Cameron CSC, RSL Queensland State President

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