Defence provides a range of support services for ADF members and their families, such as crisis and bereavement support, assistance to families managing the opportunities and challenges associated with military life, supporting members and their families when the member transitions from military to civilian life, and a number of health and wellbeing initiatives. In specific circumstances, support is also provided to Defence APS employees and their families.
ADF members and their families
Programs and services that assist Defence families with the unique nature of military service include carers information and advice, intervention and counselling, referrals to specialised community services, and assistance and support in crisis situations. Specific support available to families includes:
- support in adjusting to illness and injury
- a 24-hour counselling and support service for personal or family issues
- information about and referral to community services, for example parenting support, family counselling services and relationship counselling
- information on benefits, entitlements and practical assistance, for example Centrelink payments, disabled parking permits, transport services for injured or ill individuals, and financial counselling services
- absence from home support for ADF members and their families including pre- and post-deployment briefs, support calls to family members, and a range of online resources
- advice to command about how to respond to and support family situations, including family assessments and reports, 24-hour telephone advice, and briefs about available support
- counselling and practical assistance in emergency or crisis situations where there are concerns about an individual’s welfare and/or family safety
- coaching, practical guidance and support to assist when planning the transition from military service.
Defence delivers awareness presentations on family and domestic violence and also provides guidance on responding to allegations of family and domestic violence. The general awareness brief is targeted at all Defence and APS members, while an additional brief is designed to assist commanders and managers in responding appropriately to family and domestic violence.
A range of online resources are available to families, including the comprehensive Absence from home support booklet, tip sheets to assist members and families with active coping, and specific products for children. Defence also delivers programs aimed at enhancing family resilience during a member’s absence from home, and offers webinars and proactive support telephone calls to assist families during different stages in the deployment cycle.
Partner Employment Assistance Program
In 2019–20 Defence expanded eligibility for the Partner Employment Assistance Program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ADF partners are able to access the program at any time during the posting cycle and regardless of how long they have been in a location.
The Partner Employment Assistance Program provides funding towards employment-related initiatives aimed at contributing to ADF partner employability in their new posting. Employment-related initiatives include professional employment services and mandatory fees for professional re-registration required under legislation. Professional employment services can include résumé development, interview coaching, assistance with identifying transferrable skills, employment options or job placement advice, development of an online employment profile, selection criteria coaching, and interview preparation and presentation.
Since opening up the eligibility for support in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Defence has seen an increase in applications of 80 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. ADF partners are also able to participate in job search preparation workshops at any time to enhance their preparedness for employment, including seeking promotion.
Childcare, schools and communities
Defence also provides childcare support to ADF families through the Defence Childcare Program, comprising 16 long-day-care and three out-of-school-hours centres and the Individual Case Management Service. Since its launch in May 2016, the Individual Case Management Service has assisted over 765 Defence families to review their childcare requirements and find a childcare centre appropriate to their needs.
The Defence School Mentor Program provides funding to minimise the impact of mobility on education and build schools’ capability to support Defence students, particularly during transitions into and out of the school and during parental absences. In 2019–20, a total of 248 schools and approximately 13,000 Defence children received support under the program.
The Family Support Funding Program provides grants to community organisations to help them deliver support and services of value to Defence families and the community they live in. In 2019–20, 48 not-for-profit community organisations received grant funds under the program. The Community Support Coordinator Program funds Defence community groups to employ a community support coordinator to coordinate the delivery of valuable services and support to Defence families in their local community. In 2019–20, 35 paid Defence community support coordinators were supported through the program.
Defence continues to work closely with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to deliver the best possible health and wellbeing outcomes for current and former members of the ADF and their families. These outcomes have been delivered through the Transition Transformation Program.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Defence continued to provide comprehensive transition support to ADF members and their families. Support continued virtually via phone, video call and email to ensure the safety of staff and of ADF members and their families.
Adaptation to COVID-19 conditions
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Defence has continued to provide 24-hour telephone support to ADF members and their families. This has included targeted contact with families who have been impacted by COVID-19. In addition, Defence has adapted to presenting briefs, including deployment briefs, to ADF members virtually. We have also delivered a series of psychosocial webinars to the Defence community on topics such as wellbeing, healthy relationships, and supporting children in isolation.
To support our people and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic, Defence quickly adjusted personnel policies, provided mental health support through the Defence Community Organisation and the Employee Assistance Program, and implemented flexible work practices on an unprecedented scale. Regular communication ensured that our people remained up to date with the latest health advice.
- The Defence Family Helpline answered more than 1,000 enquiries from personnel and their families.
- More than 2,100 personnel accessed webinars provided through our Employee Assistance Program.
- Defence supported the return of 148 personnel and/or their family members from overseas posts.
- The use of Defence’s e-communications platform ForceNet has increased exponentially throughout the COVID-19 response phase, with 25,949 new registrations between 29 February and 30 June 2020. Defence had 92,202 registered users at 30 June 2020.