Do partners and dependants have any health entitlements through Defence?
The National ADF Family Health Program provides unlimited reimbursement for out of pocket expenses when you visit the GP. You are also eligible to claim $400 per dependant each financial year for allied health and medical specialist services. This benefit is available for all recognised dependants of ADF members. Visit the ADF Family Health website to find out how to register for the Program.
I need health insurance
Partners need to consider obtaining private health insurance to assist with paying the costs of specialist doctors, hospital accommodation, dental care, ambulance transport and many other health-related expenses.
What healthcare is provided to ADF Members?
ADF Joint Health Command is responsible for all healthcare services for the ADF member including preparation for and support to deployed members. ADF members do not require Medicare cards to access medical services.
Access to urgent health treatment outside ADF workplaces:
In the event of an emergency relating to an ADF member, families should call 000.
If an ADF member requires urgent medical treatment, members and their families should call 1800 IM SICK (1800 467 425).
The IM SICK line provides advice to ADF members regarding the location of the nearest Defence health unit. If a Defence health unit is not available in the local area then the line will provide a referral number for the ADF member to attend a civilian health service.
Some civilian health service providers may require the ADF member to pay for the service at the time of consultation in which case the ADF member is to submit the account with the referral number to the Area Health Service for reimbursement. The member should check on the process required with the chain of Command.
If an ADF member is admitted to a civilian hospital they are to notify their posted unit, health unit or the IM SICK line.
If an ADF member is overseas they should contact the Australian embassy in location and seek advice.
The All-hours Support Line (ASL) 1800 628 036.
The ASL is a confidential telephone service for ADF members and their families that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The ASL is designed as a triage line, which simply means that it is there to help you access ADF or civilian mental health services more easily. Services that you can access include psychology, medical, social work, and chaplain services.
What if an ADF member is wounded or injured?
By definition, a Defence member that is serving in warlike circumstances and is involved in contact with the adversary, either through direct engagement, or indirectly such as road-side bombing, and is hurt, is said to have been wounded. A Defence member hurt in an incident that has not been the result of adversarial action in warlike circumstances is said to have been injured.
Notification of casualty (NOTICAS) is the name for the formal process of reporting of casualties within the Australian Defence Force. This reporting informs the Chain of Command and provides information that is passed to families of deployed members. NOTICAS reports are raised for every injuring or wounding and the reporting is undertaken as quickly as possible.
Public release of names
Names of ADF members (not afforded protected identity status) remaining in an operational area following an announced wounding or injury will not be released.
Names of ADF members (not afforded protected identity status) returning to Australia for treatment will remain protected until authorised for release by the individual member concerned.
Names of ADF deceased will be released in consultation with the member’s family.
Only Special Forces soldiers, who have protected identity status, may have their names withheld when they are admitted into non-military hospitals. There is no policy to hide the identity of other ADF members undergoing medical treatment and rehabilitation in private or public hospitals.
If an ADF member is hospitalised through illness or injury while away from home for Service reasons, a nominated family member or close friend can access financial assistance to visit and support them. This is called the Australians Dangerously Ill Scheme (AUSDIL). For more information, please access the Defence Community Organisation website.
Visit www.defence.gov.au/dco/ > Managing times of difficulty > Emergency Support
View the Army website to read about Support to Wounded, Injured and Ill.
Visit www.army.gov.au/ > Army-life > Support to Wounded, Injured and Ill
View the Joint Health Command website for an overview of the ADF Rehabilitation program including an explanation of the role of Program Case Managers and frequently asked questions.
Visit www.defence.gov.au/health/ > Our organisation> Branches and Directorates> Directorate of ADF Rehabilitation and Compensation
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Soldier On is a charity that supports servicemen and servicewomen of the ADF who have been wounded, physically or mentally, in the service of their country.
Wounded Heroes is a charity focused on wounded ADF members and deployment support.
What support is available when an ADF member is killed?
The Defence Community Organisation (DCO), on behalf of Command is responsible for the support of the next of kin (NOK), families and other close associates of ADF members who die in Service. In addition, the services of DCO are fully available to survivors and their families and families of ADF Cadets who die while participating in an ADF sponsored activity.
DCO aims to provide support to bereaved families that ensures they have accurate information, practical assistance, emotional support and counselling available that reflects the unique requirements of the family.
The support delivered by the Defence Support Team begins with notification of the death and continues for as long as the family finds the support helpful. A separate Defence Support Team is also available to provide support during a Commission of Inquiry.
The DCO Support Team will normally be led by a DCO Social Worker Case Manager and will also include a Military Support Officer (MSO), a representative from the member’s Unit/Service and other staff.
Chaplains offer emotional, spiritual and practical support for ADF members and their families. Chaplains liaise with ADF command and DCO concerning the conduct of military funerals and are available to conduct private funerals, memorials and thanksgiving services on request.
Visit the DCO website to read their bereavement support fact sheet.
Visit www.defence.gov.au/dco/ > Resources > Downloads > Bereavement Support
Also visit the Managing Times of Difficulty section of the DCO website for more information about bereavement support.
Call the Defence Family Helpline 24 hours 7 days a week on 1800 624 608 for immediate assistance regarding bereavement.
Visit the Defence Force Welfare Association website to read their factsheet on bereavement support. Visit www.dfwa.org.au > What We Do > Bereavement Support
The Department of Veterans' Affairs has produced a resource for families to prepare for a death called a Planning Ahead Kit.
Visit www.dva.gov.au > About DVA > Publications > Health > Planning Ahead Kit
A member of our family has special needs
Some Defence families have a family member with special needs. Special needs in this sense can mean someone who has, for example, a physical, intellectual, sensory or learning/behavioural disability, or a psychiatric illness/disorder. It can also include those assessed as being gifted or talented.
Support for Defence Families with dependents with special needs comes from two main sources: Defence Community Organisation (DCO) and the Defence Special Needs Support Group.
When families are posted they may have difficulties accessing the specialist services they need, as waiting periods may apply. In order to address some of the difficulties which Defence Families who have a recognised dependant with special needs may face, the Dependant with Special Needs Program provides a range of assistance measures.
Visit the Support for Dependents with Special Needs section of the DCO website for more detailed information.
Visit www.defence.gov.au/dco/ > Partners, Parents and Families > Special Needs
Call the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 for more information or email DefenceFamilyHelpline@defence.gov.au for a response within 24 hours.
The Defence Special Needs Support Group Inc is a non-profit benevolent volunteer organisation established to assist Navy, Army and Air Force families with a family member with special needs. The group provides support, information, assistance and advocacy for all Defence Families who have a dependant (child, spouse or other dependant) with special needs.
Visit their website to find out how they might be able to help you.
Defence Special Needs Support Group Call 1800 037 674 or visit www.dsnsg.org.au
Where can I receive counselling, pastoral care or mental health support?
The Defence Community Organisation has limited counselling availability. Family members are advised to call the Defence Family Helpline to discuss their needs and find out what suitable support services are available through either Defence, DVA or the general community.
Defence Community Organisation has detailed information on what partners can expect in emotional changes during the deployment process on its website and a Deployment Support Booklet.
Search the DCO website for the latest version of the Deployment Support Booklet.
Visit www.defence.gov.au/dco/ > Resources > Downloads
Call the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 for more information or email DefenceFamilyHelpline@defence.gov.au for a response within 24 hours.
Defence All Hours Support Line is a confidential telephone service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will help members and families access Defence or civilian mental health services more easily including psychology, medical, social work, and chaplain services. Call 1800 628 036.
Defence Chaplains provide regular support to full-time and part-time ADF members and their families both at home and in the workplace. They are trained professionals who are able to provide pastoral care and counselling to members and their families, for issues such as bereavement, separation due to military service (training, posting, exercise or deployment), interpersonal conflict, pre-marriage and relationship preparation and family or marital disharmony.
Chaplains provide spiritual and religious care through worship services, the occasional offices (Marriage, Baptism and Funerals), ministry to the sick and religious education. Chaplains are on-call and available after hours. Chaplains are responsible to ensure the religious and spiritual needs of all world religious faith groups are provided for.
Visit the Army website to read more about the range of services offered by Army Chaplains and how to make contact in your location.
Visit www.army.gov.au/ > Army-life > Health-and-welfare > Chaplaincy-support
Visit the Navy website to read more about the range of services offered by Navy Chaplains and how to make contact in your location.
Visit www.navy.gov.au/ > about > our-people > counselling-religion
Veteran and Veterans Families Counselling Service
ADF members who have served in eligible operations may be referred to the Veteran and Veterans Families Counselling Service by their health unit or chain of command. Families and recently separated partners of eligible members can contact VVCS without a referral for assistance with counselling or a range of relationship issues. Counselling and group programs are fully funded by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
VVCS Eligibility at a Glance
The following members of the veteran and defence community presenting with mental health and wellbeing concerns, can seek help from the VVCS:
· Veterans, whether current or former serving with the Australian Defence Force;
· Other current and former Australian Defence Force members who have:
o served in domestic or international disaster relief operations;
o served in border protection operations;
o served in the Royal Australian Navy as a submariner;
o been medically discharged; or
o been involved in a training accident that resulted in serious injury to any person.
· Participants in the Veterans’ Vocational Rehabilitation Scheme.
· Certain United Nations and Australian police approved peacekeepers.
· The partners and dependent children (up to age 26) of those members listed above.
· The ex-partners of Vietnam veterans within five years of separation.
· Sons and daughters (of any age) of Vietnam veterans.
· War Widow[er]s
· Those with a DVA Health Card - for All Conditions (Gold)
· Those with a DVA Health Card - for Specific Conditions (White) for specified mental health conditions.
· The partners, dependent children and parents of members killed in service-related incidents.
· Participants in the Study of Health Outcomes in Aircraft Maintenance Personnel scheme.
· Current serving members who are referred to VVCS by the Australian Defence Force under an Agreement for Services.
To confirm your eligibility please call VVCS on 1800 011 046.
Visit the VVCS website which includes locations of VVCS centres in each state and factsheets on many topics including depression, anxiety and PTSD.
Call 1800 011 046, available 24 hours a day, or visit a VVCS centre.
Relationships Australia provides advice and courses on building better relationships, coping with children, remote relationships, relationship breakdown and stepfamilies. Relationships Australia is a private provider which receives some government funding. There may be fees involved with attending courses.
Visit www.relationships.com.au or call 1300 364 277.
Family Relationships Australia is a Federal Government initiative that aims to provide families with information to improve relationships or cope with separation.
Call 1800 050 321, 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday.
Army Wounded Digger Website
Wounded Digger has a webpage with a list of symptoms for post-traumatic stress disorder and clear guidelines on when to seek help.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs At Ease website
At Ease has a full range of advice on improving mental health, advice on anniversaries, risky behaviour, self-help, treatment and mental health myths.
There is also an excellent book, Beyond the Call, about the experience of veterans and their families coping with mental illness.
The Wellbeing Toolbox
This Department of Veterans’ Affairs website provides tools for veterans and their families to reduce stress when they face challenges or problems.
Civilian Mental Health Websites
beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation.
The website contains detailed information, symptom checklists and research on Depression, Anxiety disorders, Postnatal Depression and Bipolar Disorder.
R U OK? Day
October 7 is R U OK? Day, which is promoted by an independent, not-for-profit organisation to provide national focus and leadership for ending suicide by empowering Australians to make a difference, encouraging open and honest communication.
Australian National University E-hub for Self-Help Programs for Mental Health and Wellbeing
The E-hub contains information on a range of mental health issues, online diagnosis tools, strategies for preventing and coping with depression or challenges such as relationship breakdown, grief and loss.
Carers Australia has detailed advice for family carers of people suffering a mental illness.
Civilian Websites for Young People
Reachout is a web portal for young people with factsheets, stories, online activities and forums related coping with suicidal thoughts, depression, eating disorders, loneliness and self-harm.
Established and funded by the Commonwealth Government of Australia in 2006, headspace provides mental and health wellbeing support, information and services to young people aged 12 to 25 years and their families.
Visit www.headspace.org.au To find out if there is a headspace centre near you click here.
Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI)
The COPMI website has an excellent directory of programs and resources available around Australia for children dealing with Parents with a Mental Illness.
I need drug and alcohol advice
The ADF recognises that Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) use is a health issue for ADF members, requiring a health response. It encourages partners to be involved in treatment of ADF members. ADF members should seek advice and referrals from their health unit for ADF Alcohol Programs.
Visit the Joint Health Command website to get information on alcohol.
Visit www.defence.gov.au/health/index.htm > Health Publications > Mental Health Fact Sheets
The Right Mix website has been developed by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to address alcohol use. It includes a Drink Measurement Tool, Online Assessment Tool for Problem Drinking.
The Online Counselling website for drugs and alcohol issues, run by Turning Point, offers counselling for people using drugs and their family members or friends. The service is available 24 hours a day for anonymous or registered users.
Family Drug Help is a service designed specifically to address the support and information needs of parents, other family members and significant others of someone with problematic alcohol or other drug use. Call 1300 660 068.
Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope, in order to solve their common problems.
Our relationship has broken down
Safe house accommodation
The Defence Community Organisation can also provide temporary ‘safe house’ accommodation for the dependants of ADF members in situations of extreme domestic crisis, where the family members cannot remain in the home and have no available alternatives for accommodation. To access this service, contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.
Administrative processes and entitlements
Defence Community Organisation has produced a fact sheet on the administrative processes that must be undertaken, and the entitlements that may be available upon the breakdown of a marriage or interdependent relationship - Relationship Breakdown . This page is also accessible from the homepage www.defence.gov.au/dco under "Get your hands on a handout".
This may include entitlement for general removal costs, removal of vehicle costs and pet relocation costs. Further information can be found in the ADF Pay and Conditions Manual.
Visit www.defence.gov.au/dpe/pac/ Chapters 6 and 8