2018 Welfare Summit

Welfare Summit 2018

AFAP Welfare Representatives from across Australia gathered in Melbourne over two days in June to participate in the yearly Welfare Summit.   

The summit created a space where industry leaders, including aviation medical, psychology and pilot representatives could meet and learn from each other. Discussing the intricate topics of pilot mental health and wellbeing across the aviation industry.  

The summit was a huge success with many interesting topics and debates spoken about, all to ensure the AFAP continues to provide an industry lead program helping pilots health and wellbeing.  

This year the Welfare Summit welcomed numerous guest speakers all with an exceptional wealth of experience and knowledge across the industry, these included;  

Day One 

Dr Michael Drane, CASA Principal Medical Officer:
Dr Drane has extensive experience in both the medical and aviation industry. Beginning at St Thomas Medical School in London, before gaining experience at the Civil Aviation Authority New Zealand as Medical Officer, Aviation Medicine at Emirates before joining CASA in Australia in 2009. Starting as a Senior Medical Officer then moving into his current position of Principal Medical Officer. 

Dr Drane opened the summit with his two presentations on the new approaches CASA is taking to mental health, and how they are increasing their prioritisation of pilot’s welfare, health and wellbeing throughout their careers with little impact to their flying. 

Dr David Powell, Aviation Medical and Consultant to the Virgin Group:
Dr Powell has spent his entire career in aviation including positions with the Royal New Zealand Air Force, Chief Medical Officer Air New Zealand and his current position at Virgin Australia.  

Dr Powell’s presentation ‘Drugs, Diagnosis and Dramas – Challenges in Aviation Medical’ discussed how the industry can better support pilots suffering from mental health, and show pilots how and why a mental health diagnosis does not always result in the end of their flying career. 

Dr Russell Brown, Qantas Medical Officer:
Dr Brown’s position as Qantas Medical Officer sees him cover passenger health, occupational ground health, travel medicine and alcohol and other drug programs.  

Matthew O’Keeffe, AFAP Welfare Director:
Matthew has been the AFAP’s Welfare Director for the past two years, during this time he has not only increased the programs reach to pilots dramatically but also undertook training programs in the US and successfully supported pilot members back to sobriety.  

Dr Russell and Matthew spoke together about ‘HIMS and the Pathway Forward’, during this presentation they discussed the misuse disorder and how the aviation industry can improve the tricky relationship of protecting pilots’ health and wellbeing while also protecting the aviation safety overall. 

Erica May, SkyFamilies:
Erica May started SkyFamilies in 2016, after she realised there was no real support network for the partners and families of pilots. Erica herself is married to a pilot and developed SkyFamilies so partners and families have a space to discuss the difficulties they face with such a demanding career. 

Captain Toby Messner, Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Pilot:
Captain Messner ended the first day with an inspiring presentation on his own journey surviving from substance abuse disorder, giving a raw insight into the ups and downs he faced along the way.  


Day Two 

Dr Laura Fildes, Clinical Psychologist, PeopleSense and Contract Manager for the AFAP Member Assistance Program (MAP):
Dr Fildes specialises in treating trauma across the lifespan, and with her experience as a clinical psychologist works closely with the AFAP’s Member Assistant Program which started in 2016.  

Dr Fildes led the summit for the entirety of day 2, covering a number of topics and skills for welfare reps to use when handling mental health and providing the correct way of discussing it with colleagues.  

Beginning with the statistics, barriers and the ongoing stigma associated with mental health especially in the aviation industry. How to use MAP and the various resources made available to aid in the process, of identifying the issue and then correctly helping pilots through the recovery. 

In the second session Dr Fildes focussed on teaching emotional intelligence, it’s key components and increasing both your own and colleague’s awareness of it. The benefits emotional intelligence can have for you to know about how to use this to your advantage.

To watch the welfare summit please email abbey@afap.org.au. 


Protecting Australia's Pilots