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Why do VVCS undertake research?

VVCS undertakes various research projects as part of our commitment to current and former serving ADF personnel and their families. The primary goal of our research is to ensure that our services are on the leading edge of knowledge and that our clients continue to receive high-quality, evidence-based and accessible clinical services.

VVCS collaborates with international experts, universities, non-government organisations and other providers to implement research across our service. Involvement in research also enhances the skills and knowledge of our counsellors, supporting them to provide best practice treatment for our clients.

VVCS also contributes to external research projects, including those run by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Defence.

Why should I get involved in VVCS research?

People participate in research for a variety of reasons. By participating, you may help improve the services available to future clients and may see the benefit for yourself.

For example, online video counselling may be more convenient to fit into your busy schedule, while also helping VVCS to ascertain if the method is as effective as a face-to-face counselling. Your participation could mean that this option becomes part of VVCS service delivery in the future, which is of particular importance for clients in remote locations or those who have significant difficulties in attending an office for face-to-face sessions.

It is important to note that not everyone who participates in a research study will benefit personally. However, it is guaranteed that your participation will help us to learn more about a certain topic, and potentially benefit future clients. Additionally, VVCS will take every step to ensure its involvement in research does not cause harm to any participant.

What ethics governs VVCS research?

All research projects undertaken go through rigorous research ethics processes. Apart from the research requirements for specific universities or research institutes – all research ethics need approval from the Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Human Research Ethics Committee (DDVAHREC).

VVCS are required to ensure participation in research is confidential, including that it is securely stored and de-identified.

Research proposals thoroughly address client confidentiality; options for participation, ways to withdraw from research participation, and best clinical practice – to ensure the safety and anonymity of our clients. This is of the utmost importance to VVCS.

What research is happening at the moment?

  • Online Video Counselling Study: In partnership with Swinburne University, VVCS is seeking to confirm that online video counselling is as effective as face-to-face counselling.
  • Rapid Exposure Supporting Trauma Recovery (RESTORE) Trial: In partnership with Phoenix Australia, Department of Defence and Department of Veterans’ Affairs, VVCS is seeking to confirm that intensive exposure therapy for PTSD is as effective as prolonged exposure therapy
  • Synergy Technology Trial (Sydney region): In partnership with the Department of Health and Innowell Pty Ltd., VVCS is leading a trial to assess whether an internet-based platform – ‘Synergy Online System’ – will assist clients to manage their mental health, by bringing together integrated and interoperable phone applications, e-mental health tools and other resources.
  • Community Coordination Pilot (North Queensland region): VVCS is trialling a program which involves coordination of mental health care for clients who need additional support. The pilot aims to assist clients in holistically managing their mental health supported by case management throughout the recovery process involving the client, their family, clinician and lived experience workers
  • Townsville Suicide Prevention Pilot (Operation COMPASS): VVCS is supporting a project run by the North Queensland Primary Health Network, which aims to reduce the incidence of suicide amongst ex-ADF members and their families
  • Operation Life Suicide Prevention Pilot Workshop: In collaboration with DVA, Uniting Care Community and Australian Health Care Associates, VVCS is assisting the research and design of a suicide prevention program for the ex-service community
  • Development of a Moral Injury Scale: In partnership with the Department of Defence and Phoenix Australia, VVCS is sponsoring a study to develop a new moral injury outcomes scale to potentially be used by VVCS and the ADF as part of routine mental health assessment and treatment, and to assess the outcomes of care delivered to address moral injury.
  • Transition Wellbeing and Research Program: VVCS is supporting the largest and most comprehensive study undertaken in Australia by the Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. It examines the impact of contemporary military service on the mental, physical and social health of serving and ex-serving personnel and their families.
  • PTSD Coach Evaluation: VVCS is supporting a collaboration between the Department of Defence, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and Queensland University of Technology to conduct an evaluation of PTSD Coach Australia mobile phone application, to assess whether the app is meeting the needs of ADF members, and identifies any ways the app may be improved