ADF Cadets

IMG_1352Australian Defence Force Cadets Commemorate 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Amiens

Cadet Corporal Breydon Verryt-Reid, from 612 Squadron (AAFC) in Mount Gambier, South Australia, recently travelled to the north of France to commemorate the Centenary of the Battle of Amiens and the last 100 Days of World War I.

Cadet Corporal Verryt-Reid was one of 16 cadets from Australian Navy Cadets, Australian Army Cadets and AAFC selected to represent Australia, joining young people from Canada, France, UK and USA from 6–9 August 2018.

The commemorative service gave cadets an opportunity to remember Australians commanded by General Sir John Monash, who battled with other allies on the Western Front in France 100 years ago.

“A selection process was undertaken within our organisations, and we were subject to endorsement by our Officer Commanding 6 Wing, then selected based on the outcome of a written and in person selection board,” Cadet Corporal Verryt-Reid said.

After being selected, the cadets undertook a thorough research project into a significant person from Australia who took part in World War I. The AAFC contingent researched Lieutenant John Gould-Taylor DFC, who was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for taking on five German aircraft singlehandedly.

The cadets participating in the international commemoration attended a service at Amiens Cathedral on 8 August 2018, and visited the Somme 1916 battlefields.

Cadet Corporal Verryt-Reid said the cadets heard from experienced tour guides on the Western Front, as well as Professor Sir Hew Strachan, a highly respected World War I historian who travelled with them throughout the tour.

“We visited Villers-Bretonneux, the Sir John Monash Centre adjacent to the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, the Australian Corps Le Hamel memorial, Newfoundland Memorial Park, a Canadian memorial, Thiepval Memorial, an Anglo-French memorial to those who went missing during the war, and the Armistice Clearing at Compiègne, where the armistice to end World War I was signed,” Cadet Corporal Verryt-Reid said.

Breydon Verrty Reid Paris

“The activities gave us a chance to reflect on the bravery, courage and fortitude shown by the men and women who participated in World War I.

“My participation in the commemoration events coupled with the pre-tour research project allowed me, and my family and friends, to learn a great deal about the battle and World War I on the Western Front generally. There was also an opportunity to share my learning and my experiences with my squadron and my school.”

Cadet Corporal Breydon Verryt-Reid joined the Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC) two years ago because he was interested in becoming a pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force.

“I wanted an out-of-school activity that didn’t interrupt my school or part-time work,” Breydon said. “I didn’t realise it at the time, but the AAFC is so much more than just flying. I’ve been involved in drill, fieldcraft and teamwork,” Cadet Corporal Verryt-Reid said.

“My family have been very supportive of my participation in cadets as it has enabled me to prepare myself not only for a career in the Australian Defence Force, but also for my future generally, through the skills and life experience I gained. In terms of my interest in becoming a pilot, the AAFC as a Cadet Service provides plenty of opportunities to access flying activities, as well as giving me theoretical knowledge of aviation.”

“My father served in the Australian Regular Army for almost 20 years, and other family members served in the Australian Army and Dutch Navy. My interest and respect for the Australian Defence Force has grown since joining the cadets.”

The Australian Defence Force Cadets is a community-based youth development program focused on leadership, team building and other skills in a military-like environment.

For more information visit the Defence Youth website on

Our ADF Families: Tegan and Drew

Our second Defence family profile is Tegan and Drew (with Leo the parrot and recent addition, Mildred the dog).


How did you meet?

Tegan: We were both at the same school in Tassie in Year 11. Drew is probably going to hate me for saying this. He did this with his mates for a bit of a muck around but I’m a drama geek and we both did a musical together. Dancing is my passion and my journey took me to Sydney, but we didn’t reconnect until Drew joined the Army and went to training and he would come back to Sydney for breaks in training.Then he would pretty much come back every weekend he was there to see me whenever he could. I decided to move to Townsville with him when he was posted from Singleton to Townsville. So, we moved up there and lived in Townsville for the last two years.

Have you had any deployments?

Drew:  Just to Rifle Company Butterworth (Malaysia).

Do you keep track of the time Drew is away, do you have a count down?

T: Yes, I always count down! Even if he is just away for two weeks. You’re like ‘13 sleeps’. I’m normally good with that sort of stuff but because it was three months, I was just trying to forget how long it was going to be for a little while and count the months because there is less of them… just wait a little bit… one down two to go… I do all that stuff.

Drew’ doesn’t really but I do.


In the time Drew was away were you working or studying? Did you find it was easier by working to keep busy or have a routine?

T: Working. Yep I found myself taking on extra shifts. I made really good friends in Townsville, so they kept me busy. The busier the better I find.

Do you think Social Media has helped with keeping in touch? Have you also stayed in touch with those friends via social media?

T: Yes.

Was there something that came out from the Battalion, like a communication to the families?

T: Yes from 2 RAR to the wives and families. There was also a 2 RAR WAGS page. They would organise a lot of catch ups and they would share the posts from the 2RAR group because there would be photos on there every now and again.


Drew, what do you enjoy about being in the military?

D: Job security is a big one. Sense of accomplishment and hard work. The job helped me to grow up a lot. I suppose that’s what it’s designed for. It teaches you life skills, your sense of urgency.

T: I think it helps you to define your values.  And then they teach you what is important and why.

D: I like the mateship. If you are in the army you have that connection.

Do you have any examples of a story where you as a family have been helped out by another Defence family that you might like to share?

D: At the start of the year with Leo (the parrot). I didn’t get back from Malaysia until December 1 and we had to leave Townsville by December 6 so we had just five days to pack up everything and leave. We transported Leo via plane and drove down. However, when we got to Canberra housing was a big issue.

T: We posted on the Canberra Facebook partners page that we were in a pickle and a lovely local family offered to pet sit Leo until we could get into a house. We were so touched by their kindness as it was a very stressful time for us not being able to find any housing beforehand because there was none available. We had to stay in temporary accommodation and then find a house with RA which was stressful, but we are since happy with the community we have found here.

T: In Townsville when Drew was away, we had his mates come over to mow lawns and there was always someone around to check on you when your partner was away.

D: We always made sure our mates were looked after.

T: When we arrived here, we were so happy to find a community here too.


Thank you to Tegan and Drew for participating in this project.


For 24/7 Defence family assistance please contact:

Defence Family Helpine (DCO) 1800 624 608 or

Open Arms (formerly VVCS) 1800 011 046


#OurADFfamilies #DefenceFamilies

With special thanks to Sean Davey Photographer




Having more confidence in myself

PwC was one of the first employers to support our Defence Partner Employment Initiative.

Thanks to Kristy who has kindly written for us on how she secured employment with the firm as a result of a networking event held here in Canberra at the beginning of the year while she was located in Perth.

Kristy Blog - PWC Employment Sarah.png

I’m quite a newbie to Defence life.  My husband joined the Navy four years ago at 41. If it hadn’t been his life-long dream, I would have called it his mid-life crisis. It has certainly been the best decision of our lives, but for those of you who also love and support someone who serves, you will know the big adjustment and roller coaster ride we have been on.

I was grateful it was only earlier this year my husband received his first posting that meant a move away from our hometown of Perth. My feelings were of excitement initially. What a great adventure we would have as a family, new places to explore and new people to meet. Very quickly this changed to a feeling of anxiety and apprehension as I realised I not only had to leave my family and friends, but a job that I love!

Not one to let life get in the way, my first step was to begin following the Canberra Defence Partners Facebook page. I was hoping it would give me an idea of what life was like in Canberra and to help guide us with things to do once we arrived. It certainly did that (thanks tribe), but it was also where I saw a post about an information night for Defence partners that PwC were hosting. The information night was happening well before we arrived so I couldn’t attend.  I made a note to follow this lead when we arrived in Canberra.

Fast forward two weeks. I had subscribed to email alerts from Seek to try and get a feel for the Canberra market. Lo and behold there was a job at PwC for an Executive Assistant. Awesome, this is for me as it is what I have been doing for a very long time! My excitement levels spiked again, until I reminded myself it was April and we weren’t arriving in Canberra until July. Instead of letting it go, I backed myself and reached out via LinkedIn to Aj, the PwC contact provided for the information night. What I have got to lose, right?

The next bit is history and thankfully a very positive one. I am writing this blog from my desk at PwC. PwC did not look at my weaknesses, they looked at what I had to offer and I am now working for an employer that appreciates and understands Defence life. When my husband heads off for his next ship posting I know if I need to pick up our child and work from home because my husband is away, I will be fully supported.

What I have learnt in all this? Firstly, I should be more confident in myself. As a Defence partner sometimes we are so busy doing we forget about ourselves. The challenges we face and overcome gives us resilience we don’t even know we have. The other lesson for me is I know things are changing around support for Defence partners. It may not be overnight, but it is happening. Thanks to the wonderful relationship DFA has built with PwC, I was provided a direct connection to a workplace that understand life in Defence upon a new posting. This is an opportunity I will cherish and be forever grateful for.

Kristy Semple

Take a chance and embrace your network

PwC was one of the first employers to support our Defence Partner Employment Initiative.

Thanks to Sarah who has kindly written for us on how she secured employment with the firm as a result of a networking event held here in Canberra at the beginning of the year.

Blog - PWC Employment Sarah.png

Networking is an incredible tool; it can unlock opportunities you didn’t even know existed.

One Monday my neighbour tagged me in a DFA post for a Defence partner networking event at PwC. “Who are they?” I thought. Having been a secondary teacher for 6 years I was after a change. On one hand I wondered if I even had anything to offer such a company, but on the other thought I may as well have a go!

I’m certainly glad that I did. We heard from the Talent Acquisition team, a Director and a Manager in Consulting, and there was a firm feeling of excitement towards the possible opportunities PwC presented. While I was still uncertain that I had any relevant skills, I spoke to one of the recruiters and explained my background, and he suggested I send through my résumé. My résumé could have been interpreted as somewhat patchy; 4 years in one location, followed by 2 in another and a gap in employment, then only 6 months in my position at the time. Though that wasn’t a problem, as soon after I was contacted for a general phone screen. And later, to my surprise, I was invited to an interview.

My status as a Defence partner wasn’t of huge significance in the interview itself, but rather the discussion was focused on my experiences and the skills I had developed. Having left interviews in the past feeling sweaty, this one was rather reassuring (and conversational). It could also have something to do with posting to a cool, temperate region from the tropics!

Fast forward a month and i’m writing this as a PwC employee, from the flexible ‘activity-based working’ environment of their Canberra office. So far, I’ve had access to a range of opportunities, from coaching and development, to Social Impact time and agenda discussions, and it won’t stop there.

Having found teaching work from reaching out to schools directly, this experience reaffirms to me the value to be gained from networking. And while, as a woman, I could easily attribute this opportunity to luck, I now know the harm in such an ideology from my learnings at PwC thus far.

My advice: be open to any and all opportunities, and value your own skills. If anything, your ‘patchy’ work history should be interpreted as offering diversity in experience and adaptability. We are experts at negotiating the unknown and making a life of it, so rather than thinking what you have got to lose by reaching out to these employers, think instead about what you could gain.

Sarah Wilson

Our ADF Families: Clare and Jamie

Last week we all witnessed the incredible Invictus Games in Sydney which demonstrated above all else the unique strength of military families from around the world.

Over the past few months, DFA embarked on a photographic project to acknowledge and recognise Australian Defence families.

Hopefully you might relate to some of the Defence families who share their stories, because your story is our story too.

Clare, Jamie and their two daughters.


We joined Clare, Jamie and their two daughters out on one of their regular family activities, walking through a local bushland park. Only a few minutes into the trail we passed a man on a bike but on recognising the family he came to a screeching halt. The girls greeted him enthusiastically like an uncle, and everyone was pleased to run into a good family friend.

It was lovely to see the girls giggling in Mum and Dad’s arms, this is the stuff happy memories are made of.


After our walk we had an opportunity to chat with Clare and Jamie who first met through volunteering with the SES in Adelaide. Clare has now served 21 years in the RAAF including on operations overseas.

How do you think Clare being in the ADF has impacted on your family, on you?

Jamie: I think it has made us closer as a family unit because we don’t have our wider family around us.

Clare: I suppose in the absence of family we have had to become self-sufficient.

J: We’re both professionals, so we’ve had to make choices about whose career takes priority at different times over the years. I’ve been relatively fortunate, the hardest was 18 months in a small town where work in my profession was limited – I moved to the city for a while to get work. That worked out pretty well in the long term though, as that company, which I stayed with through two moves, brought in some really family friendly policies. For example, in Clare’s current job she travels quite a bit – the company has allowed me to work part time, or flexible hours, or from home in order to manage our family life while she was away.

And your children?

C: They’re away from extended family. Away from grandparents and cousins, I think that’s a little sad. I know my mum and your (Jamie’s) Mum certainly feel it as they miss seeing them grow…

C: I think the positives are that they make friends quickly and they absorb new kids into what they are playing (to feel included). 

C: It makes them very good travellers. Because we travel back and forth to go and see everyone (going to visit extended relatives interstate) whenever possible. I think they have been on more trips on airplanes than most kids their age who aren’t Defence. 

C: I think a strength though is we build families where we are. Friends become almost like a family. They have great relationships with adult friends of ours. Our friend you saw on the bike earlier, they love him and his wife.

J: That becomes your extended family

C: The children warm to them quickly. They become great family friends.

There are times when the serving member is absent, or families are new to a location when they can be vulnerable. Do you have any examples where you as a family have been helped out by another Defence family? Or, can you think of a time where you have been able to provide assistance to another Defence family that you might like to share? 

C: We moved to Canberra three and a half years ago. We had been in the house for a week and a half when Jamie went on a bike ride early one morning with a group of Defence friends.

It was 7:30 on Sunday morning and I had a phone call saying “You need to find the hospital because Jamie’s had quite a bad bike crash. He came off his bike”

The girls were still fast asleep.  I remember standing there in my pyjamas thinking I don’t even know where the hospital is. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the girls. I was just standing there. I thought OK, get in shower, get dressed and then figure the next bit out. When I got out of the shower, wet hair but dressed I was thinking, right I need to find the hospital….  

Do you know that the guy on the bike you saw earlier during our walk? Well, he is a RAAF colleague who was out riding with Jamie that day. His wife, was there!  

They live not far away. She walked in my backyard, in my back gate and said “I’m here, I’ve got the girls. This is where the hospital is that you need to go to. Another friend will get the bike and pick up the other boys, and you don’t need to worry. It’s all going to be okay. Just go, be as long as you need. I will be here all day.”

We’d only been here a week and a half. But I knew, I knew we could leave my two and a half year old and four year old with her and it didn’t matter what time I would get back because they would be okay.

I remember walking into the hospital. Where Jamie fell was red dirt and I did not know this, so when I arrived at the hospital and saw him lying there in all the spinal stuff it looked like he and the sheet around him was covered from head to toe in dried blood. I was shocked! Thankfully he was okay but it could have easily been not…

2Jamie are you okay now?

J: Yes, very fortunately.

Are you allowed to ride the bike anymore?

J: That bike was retired. But I have another one now.

C: But he is only allowed to ride with (those) friends…

C: That’s our biggest rallying point

J: If it happened now, it would have been a completely different response if everything was familiar…

This is the first in a series of stories we will be bringing to our community in the coming weeks.


Thank you to Clare, Jamie and your daughters for participating in this project.

For 24/7 Defence family assistance please contact:

Defence Family Helpine (DCO) 1800 624 608 or

Open Arms (formerly VVCS) 1800 011 046

#OurADFfamilies #DefenceFamilies

With special thanks to Sean Davey Photographer