Raising a child and serving with the Australian Defence Force are two distinctly life-changing experiences, and doing both as a single parent has its share of additional challenges.
For serving member Dee, raising eight-year old Ryan and navigating her own 18-year career with the Navy has been a balancing act.
“There have been hard times, but overall it’s been a good experience,” said Dee.
“We’ve had postings within Australia, and an overseas posting, too. We’ve seen and experienced many amazing opportunities together in some really special places thanks to Defence.”
The mother and son, who are currently posted to Nowra on the south coast of New South Wales, are accustomed to starting over in new locations, with this being their sixth in eight years.
Especially because it’s just the two of them, they are very close and support each other through their life changes.
Dee believes during her time with the Navy, there have been improvements in support for families through acknowledging flexible or varied work requirements, which can support full-time serving single parents.
“Not all families look the same and our workforce is benefits from diversity,” she said.
“I’ve been lucky to have supportive colleagues, especially while Ryan has been young.
“But there’s always more that can be done for non-traditional families through developing contemporary policies and initiatives, to ensure Defence remains an inclusive and equitable organisation, and assists me to remain serving full-time, especially as Ryan gets older.”
As for Ryan, who enjoys playing video games and being active, he loves his Defence family life.
“I’m proud of my mum,” he said.