President’s Message

In   Issue Volume 16 No. 2 .

Another year has passed. For psephologists, the six weeks of October and November were intriguing, with a result that was unclear to the last but ultimately became convincing. And so the next few years will be dominated by a Government of a different persuasion with some different strategic aims and directions. Many of these are of only passing relevance (if not interest) to the Defence community and are similarly not critical to the military health professions. But some may be critical. At the forefront will be the Government’s strategic defence outlook and policy. There is already a clear difference in relation to Iraq, but much similarity with the remaining focus on Afghanistan. There is talk of a greater interest in our immediate region, and how this might play out in relation to troubled areas closer to home such as the South Pacific remains to be seen. It can be expected that Defence capability will not change to a great extent, but the potential introduction of a separate Coastguard may have some implications in relation to maritime health care. One initiative that was announced was the provision for free health care to be provided to Defence families, particularly in remoter Defence locations. How this develops in practice will be interesting to observe, as there will be key challenges of providing health care practitioners from a workforce that is already stretched thin across the nation. Dependent care is a thorny issue for Defence Health Organisations around the world. It has been seen as one way of developing a Defence Health Service that is bigger and has a wider representation of specialties. In contrast, it is also seen as a potential liability as the political imperative to deliver care to dependents often impacts on the Services’ ability to deliver operational health care. Of course, in its current form, the proposal does not appear to be dependent health care in the sense described, but nevertheless the implementation of the proposal will be watched with interest. The new Government has also committed to supporting a Lifecycle Approach to Mental Health that will seek to integrate the psychological and mental health needs of Defence personnel across the continuum of entry through to resettlement into civilian life. This last proposal, transcending the active military member and the veteran, is remarkably congruent with the strategic focus that has been adopted by the Association’s new Journal. We can therefore expect that the Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health will contribute profoundly in supporting this continuum concept. This year has also seen two important events for AMMA. First was a highly successful conference. Building on the joint conference in 2006, over 350 delegates attended a full three-day conference in Melbourne. By far the largest attendance at any stand-alone AMMA conference were treated to world-class international and national speakers as well as nearly 70 papers prepared and presented by Association members and others with an interest in military medicine. A full conference report is included in this journal. The second event was the launch of this journal. Much has already been said and written about the Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health and you are now holding the second issue. The Association has heavily invested in the Journal, aiming to take it to one of international standing. The journal web site – www.jmvh.org – complements the hard copy, with full access to each issue. And so as we move into 2008, the Association can look forward to another year of success, with our conference in Hobart in October, and a continually evolving journal. We will continue to support and encourage the development of research and study across the spectrum of military medicine and veterans’ health. I trust you have all had a reasonable break, although I know some will have had to work and may have been separated from their families. I hope I will be able to catch up with many of you in Hobart.