Advocating for Defence families

Empowering families to advocate for themselves

As the national advisory body for current serving ADF members and their families, our purpose is to support a thriving Defence family community through policy advocacy.

Our key areas of focus include communication to and from Defence families, flexible housing, family employment, breakdown of relationship including family and domestic violence, and education.

We highlight these themes and trends during our meetings with Defence and other stakeholders, write submissions and letters to leaders, and provide feedback, when appropriate, on potential solutions to benefit families based on the experiences they have shared with us.

We also recognise families often want to advocate for themselves, but are sometimes just unsure of where to start.

For current serving members and their families, the best place for you to start is usually Defence Member and Family Support (DMFS). An official branch of Defence, DMFS offer a wide range of services, assistance and resources across Australia, and usually have an office located at or near most major military bases.

DMFS can assist 24/7 with crisis support, health and wellbeing, family programs and services, and local services and events. Please note, if you are not the current serving member, you will need to know your member’s PMKeyS number.

You may also like to engage with the following organisations or agencies to help you achieve your desired outcome:

Image: PhotoMIX Company\Pexels

If you have enquiries about finding a residence which best suits your circumstances, in the first instance you should contact Defence Housing Australia. DHA also assists with maintenance issues. However, if you are having issues or questions arising out of relocations and housing service delivery, you can also contact Defence Relocations and Housing Managers (DRHM) in locations around Australia – find out more about how they can help in one of our previous blog posts.

While DMFS provide individual case management for families in finding appropriate childcare in a new posting location, families can also contact One Tree Community Services for enrolment enquiries.

Recognised family members of current serving personnel can access the ADF Family Health Program to help reduce out-of-pocket medical expenses of up to $800 per person. This includes unlimited General Practitioner (GP) visits. Depending on where in Australia you reside and your family’s overall financial situation, dependent children may also be eligible for free or subsidised dental services. If someone in your family has recognised special needs, Defence Special Needs Support Group can also help provide information and advice.

Image: Pavel Danilyuk\Pexels

Health and wellbeing
In addition to health and wellbeing support offered from DMFS social workers, veterans and their family members can access support from Open Arms. Open Arms also offer free group treatment programs, suicide prevention skills training and mental health first aid workshops both in person and online. These programs and knowledge can help empower families to feel more confident in identifying issues before they arise, and knowing where to look for assistance.  For additional health and wellbeing support, take a look at our recent blog post which outlines health services and resources for Defence families.

There are a range of financial tools and support services for ADF members and their families. A good starting point is the ADF Financial Services Consumer Centre. There, you can find out about what you need to create a budget, take control of debt, manage finances and plan for the future. It can also provide more information about having a will, a power of attorney, superannuation and tax deductions allowed for ADF members. However, during a time where immediate financial safety is needed, Bravery Trust can help veterans and their families with expenses such as rent/bond, removals, motor vehicle expenses and healthcare.

Defence family employment is a key advocacy theme for our team. In a recent blogpost, we highlight the various programs and Defence family employment resources available in Australia.

Image: Nicholas Swatz\Pexels

The nature of Defence family life can take a toll on relationships. Relationships Australia provides community-based, not-for-profit support services across the country. All members of the community can access these services, regardless of religious belief, age, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle choice, cultural background or economic circumstances.

Our team is also focused on improving education outcomes for Defence families. Kids’ education is one of the key stressors in the posting cycle. For many families, this can continue to be problematic long after they post to their new location. Recently, we compiled a list of programs and resources relating to education on our blog to help families identify support available to them.

For members and their families who have recently transitioned out of Defence, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is the best starting point for information about support services, claims, and seeking urgent help. The Veteran Family Advocate Commissioner can also help families of veterans by advocating on their behalf to government.

We recognise navigating the landscape of Defence family support and advocacy can feel overwhelming, and everyone’s personal circumstances are different. We created a graphic and a blog post to help explain some of the key players in this space, but it is also important to remember all our organisations are here to help.

If you have tried all the relevant avenues and are still unsuccessful in resolving issues affecting your Defence family, please get in touch with the DFA team if:

  • You would like advice on the best point of contact to resolve an issue
  • You have been unsuccessful in resolving an issue through existing channels
  • You identify an existing policy gap affecting you and your family .

The DFA National Delegate for your State or Territory will be able to help. Anything you share with us will be deidentified and treated confidentially. The DFA Team will not pass on your details outside our team without your consent.

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