Wellbeing Project Officially Launches

Disaster Relief Australia | August 2022

This week marks a special week for veterans with Victory in the Pacific Day on the 15th of August and Vietnam Veterans Day on Thursday the 18th of August. We take time to acknowledge the bravery and sacrifice of our fellow veterans and consider what life was like when they returned home.

Graham Edwards’ life was forever changed after stepping on a ‘jumping jack’ mine while out on patrol. He came home feeling like they were “seen as a problem, not as a person”. He found no programs or educational opportunities to help him reintegrate into normal life. He threw himself into community activities to keep himself sane. Driven by the welfare of a whole generation of Vietnam veterans Graham moved into public affairs and politics, serving with distinction in the Federal Parliament of Australia to help pave a better future for veterans.

For Barry Heard, the Welcome Home Parade in 1987 uncovered fresh trauma for him and his mates who ultimately came together to support each other and discovered that “to give is the best thing to heal our soul and our spirit”.

They had no idea, and no support to help them find their way to healing through giving and supporting others.

That’s why, this week, as well as acknowledging these brave veterans, we would like to celebrate DRA’s volunteering program and appreciate the benefits it provides to our veteran community. Disaster Relief Australia has chosen this week to officially launch the Wellbeing Project which will help DRA validate its volunteering program.

What is the Wellbeing Project?

Through the Wellbeing Project, Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) seeks to validate the benefits of its volunteering program and identify opportunities for improvement. . In consultation with DRA our research partners, the SAHMRI and Flinders Uni, have designed a study to assess the impact of our volunteering program on our members. The study includes surveys and informal interviews to be completed by volunteers at key touchpoints including onboarding, training, deployment and routinely over a 12-month period.

The Wellbeing Project will take place over two and a half years from December 2021 to May 2024. Funding for the project has been secured through our funding partner Movember; a charity organisation focused on men’s health issues. However, for the rigidity of validating and improving DRA’s program (for all volunteers), both men and women will be included in the Wellbeing Project.

What does the Wellbeing Project aim to prove?

The Wellbeing Project aims to strengthen our volunteering program and support the growth of our volunteer Tribe so we can help more people in their time of need.

1. Improving our volunteering program

DRA aims to improve its volunteering program through data collection and subsequent high-level analysis of the volunteering program over a 12-month period. The high-level data analysis of the program will identify any areas where additional support is required and the positive elements to reinforce.

2. Making the volunteer experience better

DRA hopes the implementation of recommendations will impact its volunteer members and their experience on a personal level.

3. Supporting the growth of our volunteers (our Tribe)

The Wellbeing Project will provide scientific rigour to validate the benefits of DRA’s volunteering program and will strengthen our ability to support more veterans and communities in their time of need.

How will we do it?

DRA has partnered with Movember (our funding partner) and SAHMRI & Flinders Uni (our research partners) to allow us to conduct a formal assessment of our volunteering program through:

  1. Wellbeing Snapshot Surveys  – completed at the time of deployments and specific training opportunities.
  2. Wellbeing Long-Term Surveys  – commencing in August 2022, in-depth surveys will be sent to members to be completed every 3 months, over a 12-month period.
  3. Informal Interviews and Focus Groups – in-person interviews and focus groups will be held from May 2023 to gain further insight into the volunteering experience with DRA.

The Wellbeing Project will be underpinned by DRA’s core values of courage, mateship, endurance, service, tenacity and respect. These values will underpin and inform interactions with project stakeholders at every opportunity to ensure the integrity of the organisation and project are represented.

Meet the team – the people behind the project

Geoff Evans
Disaster Relief Australia
DRA CEO and Executive Project Sponsor

Anastasia Bougesis
Disaster Relief Australia
DRA Government Relations and Project Sponsor

Cindy Wadsworth
Disaster Relief Australia
DRA Project Manager, Wellbeing Project

Barb Snelgrove
Funding Partner – Movember
Movember Knowledge and Program Manager, Veterans and First Responders Mental Health Program

Joep van Agteren
Research Partner (SAHMRI & Flinders University)
Co-Lead Be Well Co and Project Research Lead

Further reading: Wellbeing Project Initiative Page