Timor Awakening (TA) is an immersive, evidence based, peer to peer wellbeing program for veterans; composing holistic health education, group therapy, mentoring, physical activity, historical commemoration and community development. The program is typically centered around an 11-day immersion in Timor-Leste, creating a disruption from participant’s routine to take pause, learn about themselves and seize responsibility for a positive direction forward in life. TA is available to Australian Veterans (and spouse or carer), from any state, with or without operational service. The aim of Timor Awakening is to prevent veteran suicide and improve the wellbeing of veterans and their families. Every TA participant conducts a range of data collection based on internationally accepted metrics for mental health contributing to detailed quantitative and qualitative reporting on each program. This report presents an overview of the TA16 program, quantitative analysis and reflections of participants.
Timor Awakening 16 (TA16) was conducted from 21st to 29th August 2021. This was the fourth time the program has been done domestically, taking place at St Georges Defence Holiday Suites in Runaway Bay, on the Gold Coast. This 9-day holistic health program emulates much of the features of a Timor based program. It providing an opportunity for renewal, ongoing training, and group therapy to contribute to growth, health and reduce the instance of veteran suicide, domestic violence, and detrimental effects of bad health on families. All eight nights were accommodated at the St Georges Hotel, with activities taking place at the hotel and around the greater Gold Coast area. The program was led by veteran Michael Stone and had 11 new participants, five peer support mentors, two facilitation leaders and four support staff, all veterans. The program was largely self- catered and administered with a team led by veteran Col Ahern. The program expanded when a range of visitors joined including from RSL QLD, Open Arms, external holistic health providers and guest presenters.
TA16 provided a multitude of education and healing interactions and experiences at the individual, small group and large group levels, including professional education and guidance, peer2peer support, physical exercise, mindfulness, meditation, exposure therapy and unique interaction with local communities and veterans. The program has been designed to provide a safe, nurturing and inspiring environment where veterans and their spouses have the opportunity to re-evaluate their lives, envisage and plan where they want to go, and provide a range of tools to help them achieve a healthy and purposeful life. The wide range of components, activities and discussion topics covered on the program are listed on p9. Results and reflections of participants on TA16 are profound, reflected in part 2 of this report, p11-28.
“You are not treated as a patient with a problem, effectively removing at once that patronizing clinical experience. I liked the focus on forward movement not on re-hashing the past, I feel as if a weight has fallen from my shoulders.” TA16 Participant 29th August 2021.
Special elements of the TA16 program included: