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13 March 2024
CAPS Peer Support Program takes off

Australian regional aviation personnel will soon have access to a network of trained peer wellbeing support colleagues, thanks to the new Community of Aviation Peer Support (CAPS) Program.

Developed and funded by the RAAA and Flight Safety Foundation’s Basic Aviation Risk Standard (BARS) Program, CAPS will be a jointly delivered Program that trains volunteer personnel as Peer Supporters, through a formal program supported by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority and underpinned by a legal framework.

The CAPS website (www.thecapsprogram.org) will provide links to these impartial peers who understand industry issues, are trained to recognise when the caller may need more professional help, and have access to appropriate professional services around Australia.

Operators must sign an agreement to give their staff access, but there is no fee. The CAPS Program will even fund the first four visits to a psychologist, should the caller need to take that option.

“The Australian aviation industry saw lots of challenges for many people over the past few years,” said  Flight Safety Foundation BARS Program’s Managing Director, David Anderson.

“Although a lot of people had the stress of not flying during the pandemic, a lot of others in sectors like the mining industry had double rosters, extended time away from home and time at home stuck in quarantine. And it’s not just flight crew, cabin crew and maintenance personnel and other safety critical personnel were suffering too.

“Large airlines such as Qantas and Virgin have brought in their own wellbeing and peer support programs for their staff, but smaller operators would not have the resources and the expertise to deliver a peer support program like you would expect to see in a major airline.”

Flight Safety Foundation ran the first CAPS Peer Initial Training course in November 2023, and is finalising documentation and promotional materials before formally introducing the Program in earnest.

“There’s a growing awareness,” said David Anderson. “A number of operators  are very supportive. The challenge will be in showing potential callers that they can get practical help that makes a difference, in complete privacy.”


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