About six million people in Australia are believed to be affected by post-traumatic stress disorder to some degree.

Chair of the soon-to-be-launched Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Australia New Zealand organisation – and former Chief of the Defence Force – Admiral Chris Barrie was in Wollongong on Tuesday for a planning day.

The day was held ahead of the launch of a new PTSD program, which will be informed by research in the Illawarra and rolled out across the country and New Zealand next year.

Despite people thinking PTSD was a military problem, Admiral Barrie said it had more wide-reaching effects.

“Our thinking today is in Australia [there are] about six million sufferers of PTSD, in one way or another, [who are] not military,” Admiral Barrie said, adding the figure related to sufferers and people who lived with them.

“These are first responders; police, fire and SES, ambulance drivers … there are people who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, they’re people who have witnessed traumatic events.”

The Martin Place siege was an example of such a traumatic event.

“What we know about PTSD is it is unique to every individual … we also know it will have different impacts, even in the same trauma,” Admiral Barrie said. “It’s going to be quite hard to offer treatments because one size does not fit all when it comes to PTSD.”

He said there could be varying degrees of PTSD consequences for the Martin Place hostages.

“What we do know, from the science, is most of those hostages will have a trauma consequence for about four weeks, but it’s beyond four weeks that you go from normal trauma to PTSD,” he said.

Current serving member of the Royal Australian Air Force Simone Campbell, who is also on the PTSDANZ board, said three pilot programs around anti-bullying, anxiety and autism in schools would explore ways to help all people showing signs of PTSD.

Money to the tune of $4 million is also being raised for a centre that will conduct research into the disorder.

Via: Illawarra Mercury