Australian Resource Centre for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Australian Resource Centre for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Meet “Harvey” our teeny tiny service dog & Brand Ambassador for PTSD

Harvey has had a long and distinguished career supporting the Australian Research Centre for Post Trimitic Stress Disorder (“ARC4PTSD”). Our brand ambassador, loyal and faithful friend.


The Board

The Board is made up of professional individuals with a healthy mix of passion, professional qualifications and lived experience. We share a desire for contributing to a board that is focused and determined to make a difference in the lives of those living with PTSD in Australia and New Zealand.

Michelle New – Founder & Director

A resilient survivor of Multiple Traumas (Diagnosed with Complex PTSD) and TBI (traumatic brain injury as a result of multiple physical assaults), psychologically & physically tortured, Child Abuse, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and stage 3 Cancer.

Peter Jenkins – Director

Acting Senior Sergeant/Senior Leadership Development/Operational Policing & Leadership/People Capability Command/QLD Police Service

Jodie Wooton – Treasurer-Director

Corporate & Commercial Banking Specialist

Our Advisory Board

ARC4PTSD Founder – Michelle New

Working with trauma survivors is enormously rewarding. Providing good resources and support that leads to positive outcomes fosters a sense of accomplishment. I have been inspired by our clients and appreciate the ability to take different perspectives on their own challenges as a result. I have noted positive changes in goals or priorities, increased hopefulness, and greater resilience.

Some may say I’m a fighter having been diagnosed with multiple illnesses, but they have made me who I am today and I’m proud of them. My life events have given me the skills I have needed to be doing what I am today.

In 2011, I was finally diagnosed with complex PTSD (Multiple Traumas) caused by events that occurred from the age of 6 to 35. I have also had three bleeds on my brain – TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) which in hindsight have helped me understand that the cognitive issues I have had most of my adult life were for a reason and I was not imagining it. I have also been challenged by a number of medical issues;

Fibromyalgia (a chronic pain and auto-immune condition)
Stage 3 Cancer (survivor since 2015)

I refrain from calling myself a “Victim”; I prefer “Survivor” or “a Resilient Bugger”.
With a background in corporate management, travelling internationally, sourcing products, working the raw materials and currency trends, negotiating contracts and managing a team of buyers, it was very difficult for me to stop. I was so used to running on the rat wheel for 70+hours per week and I never had time to look back or open the “Pandora’s Box” of my past and just process. Now my body dictates when I can and can’t work.

So what was the turning point for me to seek help? I get asked this a lot

I was forced into full-time retirement at the age of 43, far too young in my mind. I woke up one morning paralysed in both arms, I was taken to the hospital and underwent a myriad of testing only to be told it was “psychosomatic” (basically in my head). This was my body saying “you haven’t been listening” and “you have been through too much trauma” and you haven’t dealt with any of it. I knew that I needed some time to heal and get to a place where I was well enough to look at some type of working again.

Then, 5 years later sitting in the PTSD ward of the St John Of God Hospital in North Richmond on the Xavier Ward, a dedicated ward for PTSD patients I was slowly moving forward, understanding more about PTSD and underwent CBT and DBT followed by an intensive closed program (again the only civilian). I was amongst Military and First Responders and usually the only civilian in each visit to St Johnn of God Hospital, Richmond, NSW. I had no idea how long it would take and if I would ever return to some kind of “normal life”, but what is normal? I needed to find this out.

Mental Health and PTSD are different for everyone. The one common denominator is that PTSD can happen to anyone, it doesn’t discriminate. As I sat on the ward one weekend and listened to people saying they had no support outside of a hospital and it got me thinking, what is there for me when I leave? The answer was not much at all. I didn’t fit into any “box” and no label was long enough so I had two choices 1) Do something or 2) Do nothing.

ARC4PTSD was born, this was when the seed was sewn and the wheels started turning. I feel truly blessed to be doing the work I’m doing and to have met some truly inspiring, brave and kind souls. Now I’m a living, breathing full-time mental health advocate, keynote speaker and educator. Now with over 20 years living and managing complex PTSD caused by “multiple traumas” I have an assorted chocolate box of “Lived Experiences” I draw on. I am also attending the University of Tasmania at Lilly field, studying my Cert IV in Mental Health.

Lived Experience

I have had many curve balls thrown my way and even though they were for the most part extremely traumatic events; they have shaped me to be the person I am today, doing what I am passionate about. I have not thought of myself as a victim for a long time now I see myself as a survivor.

I have experienced: torture, physical & mental abuse, child sexual assault, domestic violence and simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I put everyone into one of 3 categories in the instance of a traumatic event unfolding:

The Doer/Helper (Fight)
The Watch/Don’t get involved (Flight)
Your frozen and wish you could help but don’t know what to do.(Freeze)
If your wondering I fit into the first category.

My lived experience in the corporate sector and my personal life experiences allow me to say “I understand and know what you’re going through”; having said that everyone processes trauma differently. I am focused on Mental Health in the workplace and wider community. I look forward to meeting and educating as many people as we can to help erase any stigma.

#you are not alone
#ptsd can happen to anyone

I hope this website helps many.

Chris Freeburn

Founding Director,Royal Brisbane International Collage (“RBIC”). Founding Director, University of Canberra Brisbane Campus (“UCBC”), CEO Integra Corporation Pty Ltd. Royal Australian Navy Reserves (Retired). Chris is a commercially astute, highly motivated and outcomes focused business entrepreneur. He brings management and Information Technology experience to the organisation.

Mel Zimmerman- Psychologist

Mel is a Clinical Psychologist currently finalising a PhD focused on the contribution of psychological flexibility and compassion on help-seeking behaviours. While researching within the compassion field, she also provides compassion-focused therapy to assist all her clients with their current life struggles.With a 15-year work history with the Queensland Police, she is passionate about providing support to first responders, military, and their families.

Professor Zachary Steel, PhD M.Clin.Psych –Advisory Board Chair

BA Hons Macq, M Psychol (Clinical), PhD UNSW; Society Memberships & Professional Activities

Fields of research: Mental Health, Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology, Epidemiology.
St John of God Professorial Chair of Trauma and Mental Health
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales
St John of God Health Care, Richmond Hospital, North Richmond NSW 2754
E| P 61 2 4570 6100| F 61 2 8569 1553 |

Research Interests/Expertise:

Trauma and mental health, psychological intervention in complex emergencies and management of traumatic disorders, cross-cultural differences in psychiatric epidemiology, refugee mental health, mental health and human rights,

Broad Research Areas:

Psychiatry, Biostatistics, Epidemiology