Advocating for Defence families

Education Resources and Advocacy for Defence Families 

*Note: information is current as of August 2023, but as DFA is not the service provider, things like eligibility may change from time to time and families should contact the scheme providers directly.

As highlighted in our blog on the DFA Top 5 Advocacy Themes, education is a key area of advocacy for DFA. We know from our interactions with Defence families that finding, sustaining and supporting the educational needs of the family is important.

In our advocacy, DFA aim to raise awareness on the unique needs of Defence children and work with government and education systems to improve access to quality education and reduce the challenges students face due to their Defence lifestyle. 

A long term, priority goal for DFA as outlined in our Advocacy Map – Summer 2022-2023 is:
Engage State and Territory Education and Veterans Affairs Departments to recognise ADF children as a priority cohort with exceptional circumstances, and to secure their participation in: 
– Establishing a system of accurately identifying ADF school children (e.g. capturing on enrolment forms) to facilitate appropriate funding allocation; 
– Championing the uptake of ADF Aware for training school staff; 
– Greater flexibility of school enrolment requirements for ADF families (such as permitting our public schools to accept a Defence Posting Order as proof of address for zoning and enrolment purposes, until a family has secured housing).

We also have many other education based goals we are working towards which can all be viewed in our Advocacy Map

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

Programs and Resources for Education

Defence School Mentor Program

The Defence School Mentor Program is delivered by Defence Member and Family Support (DMFS) in partnership with schools to support the wellbeing of children of ADF members. The program aims to connect children with their school community and enhance the school’s ability to address the impacts of the military lifestyle.

Defence provides funding to eligible schools to assist with the employment of Defence School Mentors (DSMs).

The program has 4 objectives:

  • Provide families with information about the school environment and the support available 
  • Support children to access school based social and emotional support
  • Facilitate opportunities for children to build relationships and connections 
  • Raise awareness amongst the school community about the impacts of the Defence lifestyle on children and families.

Education Liaison Officers

Education Liaison Officers (EDLOs) have broad knowledge about the differences in states and territories education systems, as well as an understanding of the unique needs of Defence children. This can be especially helpful for the families of Overseas Lateral Transfers (OLT’s), but also for all families posting interstate.

They provide education support for Defence families to:

  • inform on local schools and education systems
  • connect families with education providers and resources
  • manage the transition to a new school
  • work with schools to ensure a supportive educational environment
  • provide advice on Defence financial assistance.

To access EDLO support, contact the Defence Member and Family Helpline: 1800 624 608

Education Assistance Scheme

We know that Defence children experience disruption to their education each time they move for a posting.

To assist with this disruption, Defence offers financial support for:

  • tutoring
  • tuition and boarding school allowance
  • tertiary accommodation
  • loss of scholarship compensation
  • reunion travel

More information can be found in the ADF Pay and Conditions Manual

Moving Schools Checklist

DFMS has a Moving Schools Checklist with tips for obtaining records before you leave, how you can help your child settle into their new school and available education support from Defence. 

three young School children in unforms

Image: Anil Sharma/ Pexels

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. It can be used to undertake VET qualifications across a number of industries.

Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Education Schemes

DVA has two Education Schemes to provide financial assistance and support services to help veteran children achieve their full potential.

The Veterans’ Children Education Scheme (VCES) and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Education and Training Scheme (MRCAETS) are open to those who meet certain criteria such as children of veterans receiving a disability pension or compensation payment. 

AVCAT Scholarships

The Australian Veterans’ Children Assistance Trust (AVCAT) scholarships and bursaries provide financial assistance for the children and grandchildren of Australian ex-serving veterans. Scholarships are valid for full time tertiary study up to three years, with applicants assessed on financial need, academic potential and deservedness. 

Applications for AVCAT scholarships open every year on the 18th August, Vietnam Veterans’ Day.

There are two categories:
Long Tan Bursaries – The Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs funds the Long Tan Bursary for children and grandchildren of Vietnam Veterans. 
Sponsored Scholarships – Ex-service organisations such as RSL Australia, corporate and private donors provide sponsored scholarships. 

RSL Australia – Scholarships

RSL Australia awards two scholarships each year to children and grandchildren of veterans in need to assist them with  tertiary education in Australia.  The scholarships ($4,000 each per year) continue for up to three years. The scholarships can be applied for through, and are administered by AVCAT.

RSL Queensland – Scholarships

RSL Queensland provide scholarships of up to $15,000 to eligible ex-serving ADF members, their children and partners of current/ex-serving ADF members to cover essential study costs. Applicants must reside in Queensland, or be a partner of a current serving ADF member residing in Northern Territory, at the time of application.

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.

three university students sitting outside to study

Image: Keira Burton/ Pexels

WA Government Job Ready

The WA Government offers fee-free Job Ready short courses, as well as selected full qualifications. There are over 100 training courses to choose from for people living in Western Australia. They also have Jobs and Skills Centres across Perth and regional WA to offer a range of specialist services and support for training, careers and jobs.

ACU Veteran Entry Program and Scholarships

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. 

ACU also offers scholarships and grants created especially for veteran students and their families. 

APS Digital Traineeship 

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

Soldier On Pathways Program and Scholarships

Soldier On provide a Pathways Program for veterans and family members interested in undertaking university studies, updating qualifications, or pursuing new vocational training opportunities. The program offers mentoring, education guidance and connection with education partners. Registered Soldier On participants can also apply for scholarships for particular universities and courses. 

Bravery Trust

Through their ANZAC Centenary Fund, Bravery Trust funds education opportunities for former serving members and their spouses; and schooling costs for dependent children under 25 years old. Categories for support include: higher education or vocational training, employment preparation and schooling costs

Feature image: August de Richelieu/ Pexels

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