Advocating for Defence families

Defence family focuses on abilities

High school sweethearts Ruth and Dane did not anticipate the curveballs life would throw at them when Dane joined the Army in 2004.

Since that time, they have welcomed two children, James and Jarrod. James has a physical disability and is autistic, and Ruth has a disability herself.

Combined with Dane’s deployments, courses, living apart as a member with dependents (unaccompanied) (MWDU) for two years, and a humanitarian mission, the family have weathered the challenging times together.

Happily, they also recently celebrated 20 years of marriage.

Despite the challenges the family have encountered, they have also enjoyed some of the unique Defence family life experiences, such as travelling Australia.

While the family have leaned into some supports available to them, both Dane and Ruth acknowledge there is room for improvement, especially for families with disability.

“With the right support in place, I can work and parent, and Dane can do his job well,” said Ruth, who is a librarian.

“It’s important to see beyond someone’s disabilities. We are not a burden; we can contribute, we just need better tangible help and support.”

Ruth said it was important for her family to be represented and seen.

“Particularly for new families with children or spouses with disabilities, it’s hard to know what is out there to help support us,” she said.

“I would love to see more out there for us.”

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