Vasey Resilience Centre

Author:
Kylie Hatfield
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While there has been a significant – and necessary – emphasis on supporting our wounded, injured and ill soldiers for many years, the question has been asked: what if we could prevent some of those things from occurring in the first place? The Vasey Resilience Centre, based at 3rd Brigade in Townsville, has taken a step toward answering that question.
 
Resilience is the mental, physical, emotional and behavioural ability to face and cope with adversity, adapt to change, recover, learn and grow from setbacks. A resilient and fit individual is better able to leverage intellectual and emotional skills and behaviours that promote enhanced performance and optimise their long-term health.

This is the premise for the new performance enhancement training program recently implemented at the Vasey Resilience Centre (VRC), based at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville. 3rd Brigade is the first in the country to introduce the pilot program, developed onsite by Chaplain Dan Cassidy and Warrant Officer Class 2 Adam Keys.
 
Aptly named Ready & Resilient, the program’s purpose is to develop the full potential of soldiers and families using a systematic process that enhances the mental skills essential to the growth of personal strength, professional excellence and the Warrior Ethos.

“This new initiative is designed to equip soldiers with the life skills and tools to handle the rigours of operational service and challenges of life. This is about building the complete solider or human being through a holistic framework that might set soldiers up to thrive and survive,” said Chaplain Cassidy.
Vasey Resilience Centre Townsville is an RSL Queensland supported initiative to give soldiers skills and tools to handle the challenges of operational life.Image source: RSL News
 
“Through education and training across three pillars, soldiers will learn skills that can prevent injury and help identify areas of weakness. If their skills cannot stand up to pressures in the barracks environment, it won’t stand up to the rigours of combat,” said Chaplain Cassidy.

The Ready & Resilient program accomplishes its mission by assessing and training specific mental and physical resilience and performance enhancement techniques and skills, which aim to increase physical, intellectual and character strengths through the application of services and hands-on lessons.
 
Modules in physical training, nutrition, sports psychology, memory and cognitive skills building, resetting reactions, thinking and anger, life and financial planning, and general communication and research skills will equip participants with essential, yet often forgotten, skills that they can implement in their current service life, as well as their personal life, now and into the future. A solo free-fall sky dive as part of the program also promotes confidence in their ability and trust in their environment.

“Resilience, performance, and physical health are closely related, and research indicates that individuals who demonstrate strong
Soldiers exercising at the RSL Queensland supported Vasey Resilience Centre.Image source: RSL News
 
characteristics in one area are usually strong in the other areas also,” said Chaplain Cassidy.

“By looking to pre-habilitate soldiers, we are ultimately aiming to prevent the physical, mental and moral injuries before they become an issue for our soldiers.”

Deputy Commander of 3rd Brigade, LTCOL James Smith equates the program with “inoculation that aims to give soldiers the skills and understanding to manage stressful situations that they may encounter during intensive training, in their domestic life, or on operational service.”

“The Vasey Resilience Centre aims to develop a team of physically and mentally robust soldiers, whose resilience and fitness enables them to thrive in the military, succeed in battle and to ultimately become positive and productive members of our community,” said LTCOL Smith.

The VRC is a key element in the 3rd Brigade Human Performance Framework, which also encompasses Geckos Family Centre and the Soldier Recovery Centre, and RSL Queensland is proud to be the major support partner of this Framework.

“We’ve recognised the needs of this next generation of ADF personnel are changing and we’re excited to be supporting them in this journey,” said RSL Queensland’s Manager of Veteran Services Robert Skoda.
 
“Forget old perceptions; today’s RSL Queensland is focused on supporting real initiatives such as the Vasey Resilience Centre.”
 
“2016 marks RSL’s Centenary, and we are gearing up to be there for another 100 years. Group activities, physical training, alternative therapies, resilience and reintegration, and fostering an environment for families to come together and reconnect are core to our future service delivery,” said Mr Skoda.
RSL Queensland is proud to be the major support partner of the VRC, which recognises that enabling soldiers to realise their full potential builds resilience and reduces their risk of physical, mental and moral injuries that degrade capability, and which ultimately effect more than just the soldier, extending to their family, the unit and the community.

The pilot program concluded in August, with results indicating that is was a success. Interest in the program has grown, with soldiers – and their partners – making enquiries, and programs for 2017 already booking up in advance.