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If you've had a first hand experience with the DFDA or
complaints process, here's your chance to tell us about it.
Our aim is to make sure you have confidence that the military justice system will deliver
unbiased, timely and fair outcomes and to improve any areas where necessary.
Personal experience with the system is the only requirement. You can have your say by
Your comments will be non-attributable.
Australian Defence Force
PROMOTING MILITARY JUSTICE
April 29, 2010
REACHING OUT: FLTLT Warwick Chate in a one-on-one session
with an Air Force member on AREP. Photo: SGT Andrew Hetherington
Do you think you are alcohol dependent? SGT
Andrew Hetherington spent time with
members who are brave enough to answer 'yes'.
''IWAS having cold showers
every night for four months,
because I didn't pay my gas bill
as I was spending all my money
on alcohol. But I kept paying the elec-
tricity bill to keep the fridge running
just so my beer would be cold."
These are some of the lengths a client
of the ADF Alcohol Rehabilitation and
Education Program (AREP) went to so he
could continue to fuel his dependency.
The 29-day live-in program is held at
a purpose-built unit at 3 Expeditionary
Health Squadron (3EHS) at RAAF Base
Richmond, and can accommodate up to
12 clients at a time.
AREP is run by Air Force and civil-
ian personnel and treats members of all
Acting OIC and alcohol and drug
counsellor FLTLT Warwick Chate says
it is a myth that only a certain type of
person can be an alcoholic.
"We see a variety of personality
types, ranks and jobs represented on the
program," FLTLT Chate says.
"Any type of person can volunteer for
AREP once they are diagnosed as being
Personnel become clients of AREP
usually as a result of a string of alco-
hol-related incidents, including drunken
fights, driving under the influence, turning
up late for work or failing breath tests.
"This attracts the attention of the indi-
vidual's chain of command where ini-
tially colleagues commonly cover for the
member, thinking they are doing the right
thing by their mates," FLTLT Chate says.
"But this only delays treatment, the
incidents continue, their cover disappears
and then they eventually get referred to
the medical sections of their units."
Self-referrers, on the other hand, often
don't have trouble at work -- they have
problems outside the ADF before seek-
"I self-referred to AREP after a big
night on the town following a unit func-
tion," a client says.
"I woke up the next morning at the
airport not knowing how I got there, and
went to work in the clothes I wore the
night before -- covered in dirt, spew and
"I talked to my boss and told him
I wanted to get help."
After arriving at AREP, clients
are assessed in a ward at 3EHS by
"They are admitted to the inpa-
tient ward for two days and are fully
assessed by medical staff, including
assessment for alcohol withdrawal,"
FLTLT Chate says.
Clients also undergo pathol-
ogy and physical health tests to
determine the extent that alcohol
has affected their health and they
all speak to a doctor to confirm the
need for rehabilitation in an inpa-
After they leave the hospital, cli-
ents are allotted a room and a search
for banned items such as alcohol is
They are then introduced and
inducted into the program and an
individual treatment plan is drawn up.
They must also sign and abide by
a contract, which says they agree to
the rules of AREP.
They do have some freedom dur-
ing their stay.
"Clients are allowed off-site to
go to AA meetings at nights and on
weekends, to eat at the base mess,
see a movie at the base movie thea-
tre or visit local shopping centres
for short, supervised trips," FLTLT
Family members are allowed
to visit clients twice a week and,
in the last 10 days of the course,
ADF-recognised spouses are invited
to participate in group counselling
and other activities to assist with the
recovery of their partners.
During the course, clients keep a
daily journal where they enter their
feelings and thoughts.
FLTLT Chate and the other coun-
sellors use this journal as an indica-
tor of clients' progress.
"If we see through their daily
journal any additional things we
think need to be addressed, we might
increase the number of individual
Most clients want a good out-
come and report from their stay at
"Many clients just want to do
something for themselves to change
their lives," FLTLT Chate says.
One client says drinking caused
him to start slacking off in his life.
"I couldn't clean my house prop-
erly, my uniform wasn't clean and
my priorities weren't right," he says.
"Drinking came first and every-
thing else came second.
"But this program made me real-
ise there's so much more to life than
just drinking and there is a whole
world to explore instead of sitting
around the pub drinking beer.
"I'll now be able to look after
myself properly, cope with reality
and live like a normal person."
Most clients find the treatment
life-changing and leave AREP with
a new outlook on their lives and
"I'd recommend the AREP
course to anyone," one says.
"If you feel you have a problem,
what have you got to lose? But you
have everything to gain."
FLTLT Chate says the greatest
difficulty ADF personnel have with
alcohol is admitting they have a
"They need to ask for help. I'd
encourage them to do so and view
it as a positive sign, that they are
strong enough to make a change in
their lives to be healthier and have
better careers," he says.
"Go and see your unit doctor or
CO if you have a problem and ask
The next AREP program is sched-
uled to start on May 24, with four
other programs to be run this year.
For more information on AREP, visit
Began in 1979, with a
trial alcohol dependence
rehabilitation program at
Northside Clinic, a private
psychiatric hospital in
In 1980 AREP was devel-
oped as a clinical flight of
3 Hospital at RAAF Base
AREP includes individual
and group counselling
and optional Alcoholics
Anonymous (AA) meet-
ings, guest speakers who
have been through AREP,
PT, anger management
classes, grief and loss-
development of an indi-
vidual treatment program,
spiritual counselling and
creative arts activities.
At least eight AREP
courses are run each
Force but open to all ADF
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