The road to the Invictus Games

Participants, ambassadors and key representatives at the launch of the UniSA Road Home Invictus Pathways Scholarship. COMMUNITY
Participants, ambassadors and key representatives at the launch of the UniSA Road Home Invictus Pathways Scholarship.

UniSA has joined forces with The Repat Foundation – The Road Home to harness the power of sport and support the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of returned service men and women.

As part of the Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, a new program will provide allied health training services to competitors and draw on the expertise of health professionals and UniSA students. In doing so, it will generate wider understanding and respect for those who serve the country.

The Invictus Pathways Program is the first initiative of its type in Australia and will help prepare South Australian veterans seeking to participate in the Invictus Games. The program will also provide a fully-funded PhD scholarship to investigate the long-term value of that participation.

Sydney will host the Invictus Games in October 2018.

Pro Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences, Professor Robert Vink, says UniSA is proud to support the Invictus Pathways Program.

“This unique collaboration between a veteran’s peer support program and the University of South Australia offers exceptional opportunities for participants, staff and students to harness the power of sport to support wounded, injured and sick service personnel physically, psychologically and socially,” Prof Vink says.

“The program provides access to UniSA’s state-of-the-art facilities and expertise from staff and students for baseline physiological testing and profiling as well as training and support programs for aspiring Invictus Games athletes.

“The UniSA Road Home Invictus Pathways Scholarship, in partnership with The Road Home will also provide funding to support research, data collection, travel to games and conference attendance to evaluate the psychological, social and physical health and rehabilitation of the service personnel.”

The Road Home raises awareness and funds to support health and wellbeing research and projects into conditions such as post-traumatic stress for the nation’s veterans, emergency first responders and their families.

Acting Chair of The Road Home, Brigadier Alison Creagh CSC (Ret’d), says The Road Home is proud to be working in collaboration with UniSA.

“It is fantastic to see different providers work together to create a program which gives veterans such a life changing opportunity, all informed by research,” Brigadier Creagh says.

“This program has been enabled through The Road Home's generous community of donors and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of this innovative PhD research project through the Invictus Pathways Program.

“I’m sure this research will improve our understanding and inform development of more health and wellbeing models and programs to ensure injured veterans, and their families, get the care they need to improve their wellbeing.”

South Australia’s Mental Health Commissioner, Chris Burns CSC, says the program will be a model for strengthening the mental wellbeing of South Australian veterans.

The UniSA Road Home Invictus Pathways Scholarship is open to domestic students (Australian and NZ citizens and Permanent Residents of Australia) undertaking a research degree in the field of health sciences or psychology. Applications close 31 July 2017. For details on how to apply, contact Deborah Williams by email or telephone (08) 8302 2887

For more information on participating in the Invictus Games Pathway Program, visit the website or contact The Road Home on (08) 7002 0880.

Invictus program helping to improve lives of veterans

The opportunity to compete in the Invictus Games can be life-changing for participants.
There are currently nine Invictus Pathways Program participants.
The Road Home Wellbeing Program Manager, Mark Reidy, says the program has given him “the mental and physical tools to believe in myself again”.
“Cycling is more than physical fitness it's is my therapy, it is my medication, just as being part of a team such as the pathway program with similar veterans with physical and invisible wounds,” he says.
Emily Young is participating in the Invictus Training Program to meet people with a common background and who have had similar experiences.
“The team at UniSA have been very welcoming and accommodating and I’ve been fortunate to work closely with sports scientists in the School of Health Sciences as they help me train for selection for the 2018 Games,” Young says.
“The Invictus Program is fantastic for veterans’ physical and mental health, which are so closely aligned.”
Brendan Hardman says he’s found a sense of purpose through the program after he was forced to leave the Army last year and return home with a severe back and knee injury.
“Leaving the Army injured was extremely difficult for me because I felt like I lost the sense of purpose as I no longer had structure or daily goals to achieve,” Hardman says.

“Training in wheelchair basketball through this program is keeping me engaged and is a long term process that I feel will maintain my mental health drive, something no other organisation has been able to provide.”