WHAT IS CONNECT?
Welcome to CONNECT, the Virgin Group Pilot Peer Support Program. CONNECT is a dedicated internal confidential support group for pilots by pilots. CONNECT has trained Coordinators and Volunteers at all bases as well as professional medical and psychological support. CONNECT provides a point of connection to someone who can listen, who is empathetic, non judgmental and importantly cares.
CONNECT IS LIVE
CONNECT aims to provide early confidential peer support for a range of issues.
CONNECT is accessible to and provides peer support for all VA group pilots. CONNECT Coordinators and Volunteers are drawn from all resource groups (VAA, VAI, VANZ, VARA, TIGER). CONNECT Volunteers can be identified by lanyard / bag tags.
The CONNECT Volunteers can suggest referral to a number of internal and external support mechanisms. These include but are not limited to; general practitioners, clinical psychologists, company doctors, union welfare programs and/or pilot managers. Referral is optional.
Virgin Australia Involvement
CONNECT is 100% funded by Virgin Australia. All control resides with Pilot Volunteers. CONNECT is administered by Virgin Australia Group Medical and the CONNECT Terms of Reference Group.
CONNECT is fully supported by all unions: AFAP, VIPA, SALPA, VANZ, VARA, TIGER. Union welfare representatives have cross qualified as CONNECT Volunteers. CONNECT supplements already established Union Welfare programs.
How Connect Came About
The CONNECT program has been 2 years in the making. The structure was built after taking into consideration all feedback from pilot surveys on the back of the mental health module conducted during NTS recurrent courses 2 years ago. The data showed that the majority of pilots wanted a Group Peer Support Program. The CONNECT Program has been modelled on the QANTAS Pilot Assistance Network (PAN), which has been running for 27 years and is a great example of pilots helping pilots.
WHERE CONNECT FITS
Support Options for Pilots with problem/s
There are a number of available options for support. PIlots may approach / contact CONNECT Volunteers support directly. Pilots can be referred to the CONNECT peer support program by family, colleagues, group medical, managers, and/or union reps. CONNECT Volunteers can refer pilots to group medical, psychologists with experience in aviation profession and managers. Referals to the latter are only with the agreement of the pilot (unless threat of self harm). CONNECT Volunteers can talk on a pilots behalf (anonymously if required), set up meetings, appointments or even attend appointments with pilots as support.
Medical Projects Coordinator
VA Group Medical Officer
Dr Sara Souter
Manage case reporting by liaison with CONNECT coordinators; Feedback on usage / uptake of services to CONNECT Steering Committee, VA Group, Unions. High level reporting using the IATA Framework on Mental Health Statistics for pilots. Data furthers the cause for CONNECT funding and expansion
CONNECT ADMIN SUPPORT
The Engine Room. Manages administrative CONNECT Program, accounts, communication, training of CONNECT Volunteers and coordinates Steering Group meetings
WHAT CONNECT IS NOT
CONNECT IS NOT AN ADVOCACY SERVICE NOR INDUSTRIAL REPRESENTATION
CONNECT Volunteers will not engage in counseling or therapeutic services; nor offer medical, financial or personal advice; nor advise on pilot fitness for duty