10 July 2010

Defence response to The Australian article "Soldiers’ despair confronts Defence"

Today The Australian published this article entitled "Soldiers' despair confronts Defence" . By this afternoon the Australian Department of Defence, or DoD, acknowledged the content of the Preliminary Study for the Military Health Outcomes Program (MilHOP) Survey and indicated that it has already investigated and/or resolved many of the issues raised by the respondents over the 19 year period considered by the Preliminary Study.

In a press release DoD states that one of its highest priorities is the health and well-being of the men and women who serve in the Australian Defence Force ("ADF").

DoD claims the individual responses highlighted in the article are the participants’ personal perceptions and do not necessarily reflect the full context of the issues raised. According to DoD the article includes a number of errors as follows:
  • No Australian soldier has died as a result of an alleged drug overdose in Afghanistan. An Australian soldier, Private D, remains in a serious condition and is being closely monitored, however his clinical condition has improved. Private D is being supported by his family and the ADF at home in Australia.
  • There is no evidence to support the suggestion that addiction to prescription drugs and an underground trade in illicit substances and sex is widespread. As a result of concerns raised some time ago, a comprehensive fatigue management program is in place to support Royal Australian Air Force aircrew deployed on operations.
  • This article gives the impression that the surveys were altered because of the responses provided in the Preliminary Study and focus groups. This is not the case. The specific intent of the Preliminary Study and focus groups was to use the responses provided to assist design of the most useful questions to ask in the MilHOP survey in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of psychological health issues in the ADF.
  • The article suggests that the Dutch assistance to provide emergency evacuations only includes wounded personnel. The ADF and our coalition partners treat the recovery of both wounded and deceased personnel as critically important. However, in all circumstances the tactical situation will determine how to best achieve evacuation.

No comments:

Post a Comment