Advocating for Defence families

Advocacy and Resources for Defence Family Employment

A key area of advocacy for DFA is Defence Family Employment, which is raising awareness of the skills, experience and potential of partners, working aged children, and other immediate Defence family members. DFA also provides advice to dozens of organisations to build their focus and programs in Defence family employment.

Families of ADF members are known to regularly make career sacrifices to support their loved one’s military service.

The 2019 ADF Family Survey found that:

  • Almost half of respondents (46%) felt partner employment was one of their top three concerns of military life, with financial distress also ranked highly.
  • Defence partners who were civilians were around twice as likely to be unemployed than in the broader population at the time (12% unemployed but seeking work).
  • Almost two-thirds of partners (58%) reported that it was difficult or very difficult to re-establish their own employment following a posting relocation.
  • Three in four partners (74%) reported a moderate or large negative impact to their pay and earnings. 

Even though ADF partners are more likely to be tertiary qualified than the general public, they were at the time more than twice as likely to be unemployed.

In a cohort of around 40,000 Defence partners, this is a lot of underutilised talent and potential in a modern workforce facing skills and labour shortages.

Two of our ongoing priority goals outlined in our Advocacy Map – Summer 2022-2023 are:

  • Highlight the business case for partner employment by raising awareness of the transferable talent, skills and career experience of Defence families. 
  • Support private and public sector organisations (including Defence service providers) to develop and promote Defence family employment programs and/or advise them on how to engage Defence families in meaningful employment opportunities.

One such way DFA has worked to address these goals is through creating and delivering the Defence Family Career Comeback Course (CCC) pilot program.

This pilot was done in collaboration with the University of New South Wales Australian Graduate School of Management (UNSW AGSM), to support Defence and veteran family members to overcome setbacks or challenges to their preferred career path. 

Image: Participants of the pilot Defence Family Career Comeback Course in Sydney, November 2022.

The pilot program was delivered in November 2022, and was supported by the Department of Defence and NSW Government.

An Evaluation Report for the program was published to share the lessons and outcomes of this pilot. You can read the Defence Family CCC Evaluation Report at:

DFA want to see the Defence industry, tertiary institutions and/or government bodies interested in programs which tap into the professional potential of Defence families, take our learnings from the program, improve on it and roll it out nationally.

While the CCC seeks to address career gaps for Defence families, there are numerous family employment programs and resources available to assist veterans and their families with finding meaningful employment in different ways. Whether it is finding a new job due to posting, making the transition from Defence as a family unit, starting your own business or retraining for a new career, the supports below are a great starting point.

If you know of other initiatives that may benefit Defence family employment, please reach out to the DFA team:

Programs and Resources for Defence Family Employment

DMFS – Partner Employment Assistance Program

The Partner Employment Assistance Program (PEAP) provides funding to improve the employability of ADF partners when they are relocated due to their partner’s military service.

Commonwealth Scholarship Program

This program awards up to $13,000 in funding for those living in a nominated regional area, who are 15 to 24 years old or have transitioned from Defence in the last two years.

TAFE NSW – Ranks to Recognition

The Ranks to Recognition service offers advice, skills assessment, credit transfer and recognition of prior learning to identify a pathway to qualifications. Fee-free training is available for veterans and their partners.

TAFE QLD – Defence to Civilian Success Training Program (veterans)

TAFE QLD offers free training and apprenticeships for ADF veterans moving to civilian careers under the Defence to Civilian Success Training Program. This includes recognition of Defence training experience and providing Defence Solutions Officers to assist with the process.

TAFE ACT – Fee-free TAFE

TAFE ACT offers fee-free TAFE courses funded by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. Courses are separated into two groups. The Tier 2 courses are open to priority groups including veterans. Tier 1 courses apply to people who live or work in the ACT who are over 17 years of age.

APS Digital Traineeship 

The Australian Public Service (APS) digital program is open to veterans and their partners and assists with gaining qualifications and establishing a digital career in the APS.

Australian Catholic University

The Australian Catholic University Veteran Entry Program is open to veterans and their families. Veterans are eligible to have their military service converted to an entry rank to apply for courses, as well as recognition of prior learning based on service. Families can also apply by submitting their serving member’s service record for consideration.

Prime Ministers National Veterans Employment Program

The Veterans Employment program offers a number of resources for veterans and families including transition planning, one-to-one employment assistance and help with starting your own business. They also raise awareness for member and family employment through the Veterans Employment Awards.

Workforce Australia Self-Employment Assistance

This program is open to veterans with a transition date, as well as family members (with or without a transition date). It includes self-employment workshops, small business training, business plan development, advice sessions and coaching.

NSW Government Veterans Employment Program

The Veterans Employment Program offers tools, resources and workshops to assist with applying for NSW government roles.

QLD Government Veterans Employment Pathway

This program aims to increase veteran transition to Queensland public sector employment.

RSL Employment Program 

The RSL Employment Program is driven by RSL Queensland but available nationally. It assists veterans and their families with career and interview coaching, employer connections, identifying transferable skills and support for applications. 

RSL Australia Veterans Employment Program

The RSL Australia program offers job-seeking assistance and training, connection to employers and translation of skills for veterans and their families by specialist coaches.

RSL LifeCare

RSL LifeCare work with the RSL Australian Veterans Employment Program to help veterans and families find meaningful employment.

Soldier On

Soldier On provide employment pathways, help with translating military skills, writing a CV, interview practice, networking events and a jobs board for veterans and families.

Prince’s Trust Australia (self-employment):

The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Program supports all entrepreneurs in the veteran community, including transitioning Defence members, military veterans, and ADF partners of current or former serving members. Their free programs include a Launch Lab which supports entrepreneurs throughout the journey of starting a business, including exploration, ideation and growth. For those with an established veteran or ADF family businesses, check out the Enterprise Accelerator which includes $2,500 in seed funding to help develop your business.

Veterans’ Catalogue (Sponsored by RSL Australia; powered by Servulink)

The Veterans’ Catalogue is a web application designed to alleviate the complexities of finding the right services or support available to Defence members, veterans and their families. It includes an employment section.

Australian Veterans Employment Coalition

The Australian Veterans Employers Coalition (AVEC) connects Australian organisations who are committed to improving employment outcomes with transitioning service members, job-seeking veterans and the partners and families of those actively serving.

Mission Bridge (Veterans)

Mission Bridge provide career opportunities to veterans via strategic partnerships with industries, as well as training, mentoring and coaching. 

Bravery Trust

Through their ANZAC Centenary Fund, Bravery Trust funds education opportunities including career development for former serving members and their spouses. The support typically falls into three categories: higher education or vocational training, employment preparation and schooling costs.

Working Spirit

Working Spirit, in conjunction with RSL WA recently launched their Transition Employment Portal for Families. The free portal allows veterans and their families to create a profile and upload their resume, which can be matched with job opportunities by employers.

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