Think Piece – Hope and Healing Underpinned by Research

Source: Paul Flynn, published Thursday 24 August, 2017

In November 2015, we launched the national brand The Repat Foundation – The Road Home, to enable the organisation to officially form part of our multi-brand model. This has been an insightful experience for our entire team. This brand doesn’t necessarily fit easily into our successful brand model. We have been traditionally focused on physical diseases and bench to bedside research with a translational and tangible impact for patients in the community. The Road Home has presented us with a pathway to understand more about mental health and injuries such as trauma resulting from military service. This brand also provided our team with a whole new group of stakeholders with whom to communicate, and beneficiaries whose lives we strive to improve. To say the least, this has been an eye opener. Some of the stories we hear and the strength and determination that resonates in our community are truly inspiring.

The introduction of The Road Home has also introduced service delivery to our organisation. Working in the field of veterans and emergency service personnel has identified critical gaps in the healthcare of these important members of our community. So much so that we are now working to deliver impactful therapy programs, including physical activities such as cycling and kayaking, and also adjunct art therapy programs. So far, we are enthused by the immense impact of our therapy programs.

What is crucial to the ongoing delivery and improvement of these programs is an area which underpins everything we do at The Hospital Research Foundation group – research. If we want to truly ingrain these types of therapy programs, and use them to influence government policy, we need to deliver compelling and irrefutable results about their impact. This can only be done with independently reviewed world-class research. The Road Home national brand provides us the ability to fundraise for these critical research projects and its programs on a national basis and we are already so proud of some of the outcomes we’re just beginning to deliver. We’ve only scratched the surface, but the opportunity for research in this field is almost immeasurable.

While the importance of therapy programs is clear, one question comes to mind for me: are we creating dependency or promoting improved care? The model we are developing: monitoring, researching and evaluating; is a model to support recovery and growth; however slow or fast that journey may be. Our lived experience peer program models recovery and supports the development of new peer leaders, mentors and volunteers who move along their journey of recovery to then start to assist others on theirs.

Creating a continuum is essential. When a veteran joins The Road Home community, it is the peer leaders that understand what they are aspiring to do. Do they want to return to work and develop a new career? Are they striving to compete in the globally renowned Invictus Games? Or, are they looking for skills to help them build their capacity for daily life? If we don’t ensure we do this, then we are merely replicating deployment with no exit strategy.

Our aim at The Road Home is to ensure the incredible men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us, are rewarded with hope and healing. Underpinned by research, our therapy programs and peer model will play a key role in changing the face of healthcare for veterans in our community.

Our door is always open for feedback and suggestions about what we are delivering and how we can do it better and I look forward to continuing to meet with some of the inspiring individuals from this sector. Let’s work collaboratively towards a world where our veterans have an easy and healthy integration back into the society.

Let’s help them pave the road home.


Paul has been Chief Executive Officer at The Hospital Research Foundation since 2009. Prior to the Hospital Research Foundation, Paul was the Chief Manager, Businesses Services of Adelaide Bank Ltd and Chief Executive Officer of CanDo Group. The most enjoyable part of his role is meeting people that have benefited from the research that The Hospital Research Foundation funds. The patients who have been cured, or had their quality of life dramatically improved provide him with great inspiration. One of Paul’s most rewarding component of his role, is ringing people to tell them that they are winners in the Hospital Research Home Lottery. In his spare time, Paul enjoys spending time with his family and friends.

Caption: Veteran artist David Gillard at work on his piece "Black Dog". An Art Exhibition, One of The Repat Foundation - The Road Home therapy programs, opens in November.