30 July 2014

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) will be in the spotlight at a conference in Brisbane at the weekend.

The PTSD and the Australian Military conference, co-hosted by The University of Queensland, will aim to uncover the most effective treatments for the debilitating disorder.

UQ Centre for Australian Military and Veterans’ Health Deputy Director (Research) Dr Annabel McGuire said it would explore PTSD from various perspectives.

“PTSD is triggered by trauma and may cause symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety,” Dr McGuire said.

She said the number of PTSD claims attributed to service in Afghanistan and accepted by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs had more than doubled over the past two years.

“Particularly in the last decade, Australia has contributed to operations that expose our military to a wide range of difficult and dangerous circumstances, and this increases the prevalence of PTSD among veterans,” Dr McGuire said.

“As our deployments in war zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq wind down, it is time to reflect on our treatment of the condition and consider how we can improve the experience of those with PTSD and their families in the future.”

The conference is one of the first in Australia to bring together current research of PTSD treatments with groups such as clinicians, veterans, families and Defence Force leaders.

“The aim is to engage in a frank and open discussion about what has worked well in the past, examine the differences between anecdotal reports and actual evidence and hear real-life stories from those living with PTSD,” she said.

Dr McGuire said she believed the key times veterans sought treatment were on returning to Australia, leaving the military, and retiring from civilian employment.

“While it is acknowledged that PTSD hasn’t received appropriate attention in the past, the conference will focus on improving future treatment of the condition for both veterans and their loved ones,” she said.

“We cannot change what has happened in the past but we hope to use findings from the conference, as well as recent evidence, to ensure future treatments for PTSD meet the needs of the community and are accessible by all who require them.”

The conference will build on build on UQ’s Centre for Australian Military and Veterans’ Health work to better understand and address health issues affecting military personnel, veterans, and their families.

The event is a joint initiative between the Centre and the Royal United Services Institute Queensland (RUSIQ).

It will feature many of Australia’s leading PTSD experts and Federal Assistant Minister for Defence Hon Stuart Robert MP.

Conference participants include members of the Defence Force, veterans’ support agencies, including the RSL, and many veterans and their families.

The PTSD and the Australian Military conference will be held at the Queensland University of Technology on 2 August from 8.30am-4.30pm.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the event.

More information regarding attendance can be found here http://www.rusiqcamvhseminar.com/speakers/.

Media: UQ School of Population Health Communications Consultant Vanessa Mannix Coppard , 042 420 7771 or v.mannixcoppard@uq.edu.au. UQ Centre for Australian Military and Veterans’ Health Deputy Director Dr Annabel McGuire, 3346 4960, 0412 158 171 or a.mcguire@uq.edu.au.

About the Centre for Australian Military and Veterans' Health

The Centre for Australian Military and Veterans' Health (CAMVH) is a Centre within the School of Population Health at The University of Queensland (UQ), located at UQ's Herston campus in Brisbane.

For a decade the Centre has conducted high-quality research on a range of military and veterans' health issues, educated military and veteran-focused health professionals and facilitated collaborative debate on key challenges. These activities have resulted in improved policies and practices in support of Australian Defence Force personnel, veterans and their families. More information at www.camvh.org.au.