ADF Family Health Program

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A part of the DFA charter states that DFA informs Defence Families. Through this blog and via our social media channels we want to keep bringing to you information posts that will support families and assist in navigating Defence life.

With special thanks to Joint Health Command for providing us with the guest blog post for this week.

Defence has your family covered through the ADF Family Health Program

Winter has well and truly arrived now, and with the change in weather comes the seasonal illnesses that affect most families during the season.

Did you know the Department of Defence offers a health program for the families of serving ADF members?

The ADF Family Health Program makes affordable healthcare more accessible for ADF families. Full-time ADF Members and Reservists on Continuous Full-time Service can register their dependents to receive unlimited reimbursement of gap fees for Medicare recognised GP visits, and to receive a financial allocation (up to $400) to use towards allied health and medical specialist services.

Here are some tips to get the best out of the ADF Family Health Program:

Green DotMake sure you’re registered!

To register, the ADF member should complete WebForm AD858-1 ADF Family Health. This can be found via WebForms or at

Once you have received notification from the ADF Family Health Team that you’re registered you can start claiming for services. You can submit claims quickly and simply via our website or the ADF Family Health App which is available for both Android and Apple devices.

Green DotAdd all of your dependents, even the newest ones

Adding a new dependent is easy. Simply make sure your new family member has been recognised by Defence and put into PMKeyS. You can then send the ADF Family Health Team a registration form (AD858-1) to seek access to the Program’s benefits.

If you register your newborn within 3 months of their birthdate, we will backdate their eligibility to their birthdate. It’s important you register the newest members of your family within three months of their arrival, after this time – and for other members of the family – backdating is unavailable.

Green DotRemember your entitlements when you visit your doctor

You can be reimbursed for unlimited gap payments when you visit a general practitioner. There is no limit to the cost, or number of GP visits!

That means, when you claim the gap for GP visits this does not come out of your $400 per person allied health/medical specialist allocation. You can visit the GP as many times as needed, so keep claiming for GPs even if you have used your allied health/medical specialists’ allocation.

Green DotDon’t forget about the allied health services available!

Once registered, dependents of ADF members are entitled to a $400 allocation per financial year towards various allied health and medical specialist services. You can even combine the $400 allocation per person to use as a family amount that can be automatically transferred between family members.

Under the Program, most medical specialist and allied health services are claimable, including paediatrics, obstetrics, radiology, psychology and orthodontics and many more services are eligible for reimbursement. For a full listing of eligible services visit

Green DotTalk to a professional about Fringe Benefit Tax reporting

The benefits claimed from the Program are considered a fringe benefit. We recommend that you seek financial advice if you think Fringe Benefit Tax may impact your financial situation.

Green DotGet in contact

If you are not currently participating and would like to register to access the free benefits that the Program provides, visit the ADF Family Health website at or contact our friendly team on 02 6266 3547.

Talking to a Chaplain

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When you need support as a Defence family it’s good to know who you can talk to.

Victoria, Our National Delegate in Western Australia spoke with Navy Chaplain Kelvin Harris from HMAS Sterling about his role as a Chaplain and how he supports Defence families.

Why did you get into chaplaincy in the ADF?

I joined the RAN as an Engineering Junior Sailor, and have served in the RAN for over 30 years. In 2011 I was separating from Defence and making enquiries into becoming a priest in the Anglican Church. During this period, there were several conversations regarding my discharge and whether or not I would contemplate on re-joining the RAN as a Chaplain. It was brought to my attention that there was an In Service Scheme for changing over to a Chaplain. I took the option of the In Service Scheme.

What is the most common reason people come to see you?

People mainly come in to the office to unload or unpack a situation they are struggling to manage. I find that the principal conversations are with people who are posting into the unit. Many postings are due to some particular challenge that the Defence member is going through. The issue could be family, health, or defence related, nevertheless, the posting is due to something that is outside the persons control. Once the person realises that they can talk to me without restrictions and, that I am prepared to listen without judging them, they talk freely.

What is your best advice for maintaining good relationships in Defence families?

For me, communication is without a doubt the centre of maintaining good relationships in Defence families. Communication between both partners, between the partners and Defence administration, and partners and the Divisional Systems. When there is early and good communication, small problems are sorted out and do not become larger issues.

If someone is not religious can they still come to speak with you?

Most of the people who come and see me are not religious. When people are posting into the unit, the form that we use has only one question on it regarding religion.

What is the best way to contact a Chaplain?

If someone wants to call a Chaplain after hours, the easiest way is to call the Duty Chaplains mobile of that particular unit or, call the Duty Officer and ask for the Duty Chaplains phone number. If it is during work hours, simply walk over to their office and say hello, or walk up to a Chaplain, say hello and make an appointment to see them.

To contact your closest Chaplain, call the Defence switchboard on 1300 333 362 and ask for the Duty Chaplain at the base closest to your home.

Green Dot RAAF Chaplains.

Green Dot Army Chaplains.

Green Dot Navy Chaplains


Image from the Defence Image Library
© Commonwealth of Australia 2018

LinkedIn…what’s all the fuss about?

LinkedIn Blog Post.pngLast week we launched our Partner Employment initative and added several links to companies who are all ADF Partner friendly employers and are also involved with the Prime Minister’s Veterans Employment Program.

Thales is one of those employers.

We recently asked Katherine Mitchell, Director, Resourcing at Thales for some tips about LinkedIn for Defence partners. Here’s her response. (Thanks Katherine!)

As a career recruiter I’m often asked by candidates, “why bother with LinkedIn?” For many individuals who haven’t found themselves job-hunting recently, knowing how to find the right opportunity can feel like an ordeal.

So let me help by answering that from the other side of the fence: how do people like me and my teams identify great talent like you? The answer is a myriad of ways, from receiving applications via job boards such as SEEK and Indeed, to applicants coming directly through our website (, for those of you who are interested!) What you may not know is that we work hard to ensure we can identify a real cross section of the available talent out there, often looking for talent before a vacancy becomes live and is advertised. This means we spend time connecting with potential talent via professional networking sites. And LinkedIn is the biggest professional networking site in the world. My team make 25% of all our hires via LinkedIn, so it’s a powerful career tool.

LinkedIn allows you to create your own profile (think of it like a cut-down version of your CV), and even has an option to let others know you’re open to new career opportunities. This will help organisations and recruiters to find you and ensure your profile is working hard for you. Many organisations (including Thales) will let you apply for jobs with your LinkedIn profile, so it’s worth investing some time in getting it right. You’ll also stand out from others who don’t have a profile, and show you’re keeping up to date with the latest technology. You can choose how much information you share on your profile publicly vs. with trusted friends and colleagues.

Once you’ve created your profile, use it to connect with friends and colleagues. Why does that matter? Well, do you remember the 6 degrees of separation theory…your friends, colleagues and even ex-colleagues can introduce you to people and organisations you may never have thought of, opening up a whole world of opportunity. If you’re worried about putting them out by connecting with them, don’t be. We all like working with great people, and many organisations even offer a referral scheme to incentivise their staff to refer great talent, so approaching them if you’re interested in working at their organisation can work out well for everyone!

Once you’ve created your profile you’ll be able to unleash the full power of the site. From checking out job postings and following interesting thought leaders, to joining one of the millions of interest groups, LinkedIn allows you to connect with like-minded people, share knowledge and learn a little yourself along the way.

Whether you’re job hunting or looking to network and build connections in the industry, having a great LinkedIn profile can make all the difference. Ready to get started? Great news! Check out the links below for some tips on how to create your perfect profile, and don’t forget to connect with me when you join!

Partner Employment Initiatives

Partner Employment(1)

Today DFA added some very exciting new pages about partner employment to our website.

We are passionate about the importance of our Defence partners gaining and maintaining meaningful employment as they encounter some of the challenges of this Defence life, such as moving. Based on the research we have done so far on this issue and programs in North America, there are three key components to addressing Defence partner employment:

  • Job readiness (such as resume writing, interview and career coaching).
  • Education for employers on the business case for hiring a Defence partner and some of the policy and procedures they can implement to assist partners gain and maintain meaningful employment.
  • Monitoring and fostering the connection of partners with Defence partner friendly employers.

(Financial assistance for education opportunities for partners also has some role to play although there is limited evidence yet as to the most effective assistance that will result in a mobile, longer-term career.)

These new pages on our website are designed to address the employer education and connection components. In consultation with a Defence partner who is an employment professional, DFA has developed a checklist for the ‘gold standard’ of what it means to be a Defence partner friendly employer.

Employers involved in the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program who meet the standard of the checklist have been invited to provide a link to the employment section of their website for inclusion in our initiative. I have had conversations with human resource professionals in each of these organisations and they understand issues like gaps in your resume don’t mean you’re not committed to your profession – it just means you may have been posted to some tricky locations and you’ve had to be resourceful.

Some of these organisations are doing work for Defence so they also value the opportunity to access a pool of talent who already understand the department.

I need to be clear that this is not about preferential treatment – you’ll get the job if you’re qualified. And there is not a pool of guaranteed jobs sitting there for you. You may find that discouraging but let me assure you that educating our employers is an important first step. I talked about this issue with a business manager at a recent dinner and he said, “I had never thought of the spouses.” Because we live this life every day and are just getting on with it, I think sometimes we don’t realise how much others don’t understand.

Education is spreading about the veteran employment experience and now is the time to start educating about the partner employment challenge. I think it’s important to use the word ‘challenge’ and not hide the fact that factors like moving can be hard.

We’ve limited this initiative to the employers involved in the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program so that it’s manageable given our resources. I also hope to be able to pass along this initiative to another, larger, organisation at some point who can address all of the factors for success I mentioned earlier.

There are a variety of initiatives happening in this space (some state-based, some national) so I continue to talk with businesses, ex-service organisations and government departments to find out what they are doing and share our checklist as we are the only ones who have defined specifically what policies employers can put in place for Defence partners.

I know it sounds like there are a lot of ifs and maybes when it comes to implementing a national and holistic partner employment program but be assured that DFA is not letting the ball drop on this as a key advocacy issue. Change often doesn’t happen quickly and I know it doesn’t get you a job today but there is great value in starting a conversation with an employer about what they can do.

If you have an experience with any of these employers that you would like to share then please email me on:

DFA National Convenor

For further assistance with employment please refer to the Defence Community Organisation’s website.

We speak with a Defence School Transition Aide

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For Defence Families with children, one of the decisions to be made on arriving in a new location is where to send children to school. Around Australia eligible schools  with Defence students have the Defence School Transition Aide (DSTA) (Primary School) and the Defence Transition Mentor (DTM) (High School) programs available.

The Defence School Transition Aide (DSTA) Program provides funding to support schools to engage a DSTA or DTM to support Defence students at the school. This support is particularly important when children transition in and out of a school and at times when parents are absent from home.

We wanted to find out some of the things a DSTA or DTM do to support Defence children and we were lucky enough to have Vicki Walsh, who works across two schools in Canberra talk to us.

Vicki, what type of activities do you coordinate to assist students from Defence families at your school?

At John Paul II College (JPC), we have weekly meetings where the students can come along, share some morning tea and have a chat with other Defence students. These are informal gatherings and the amount of students changes each week. The idea is that they are welcome to drop in and catch up with each other and discuss everything from ‘Dad or Mum being deployed for nine months to the ‘latest movie release’. We also hold ‘Coffee Club’ every week, which is exclusively for our Senior students (Years 11 & 12) and offers a smaller and more sophisticated setting.

At Holy Spirit Primary School, we run ‘DKC (Defence Kids Club) every week, which involves different activities such as obstacle courses, board games, puzzle solving, colouring in and cup cake decorating. Again, this is a voluntary activity and occasionally they can bring a friend along to join in on the fun.

Leading up to important occasions such as ANZAC Day or Remembrance Day, both schools participate in a variety of projects which enhance our Ceremonies and pay tribute to our current and past serving ADF members. These Ceremonies provide excellent opportunities for our Defence students to be involved with and to be recognized as important parts of our community.

Welcome activities, such as Defence breakfasts are held early in the year to provide opportunities for families to make new connections with their school and community and perhaps catch up with former workmates or family friends. Departing students are farewelled when they leave and are given tips and strategies for their new beginnings in another state or country.

A major part of my role is to raise awareness in our community of the unique lifestyle of Defence families and the significance of respecting, honouring and remembering our past and present serving members. A lovely example of this is our ‘human poppy’ for Remembrance Day in 2017, which our whole school participated in and received very positive feedback from the community.

We have a variety of excursions both within our 4 Parish Schools and with other schools around Canberra to the Australian War Memorial, other day excursions and outdoor adventures which involve team building, resilience activities and sometimes they even get to learn something!

What brought you to the DSTA/DTM role?

I had been a full time Mum to my four children for 11 years and I was ready to get back into the workforce. My background was hospitality and when I read the job description for the position, I knew it was me. Having a husband who had served for 15 years in the Australian Army and a Dad who was Royal New Zealand Navy in WWII, I felt a huge amount of empathy and passion towards the role. I informally describe my role as ‘part concierge, part mother hen and part confidant’.

I feel extremely privileged to be working with not only the children of ADF families but also their parents, some of who have become friends. I feel very humbled when parents speak with me about the latest ceremony they have attended or the bond I have with their child. But in reality, it is me who feels very honoured to be part of the support network for their family and for the very important and sometimes dangerous job that they do.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Every day is different and during the past five years, it has never felt like ‘a job’. My own children often joke about me loving my ‘Defence Kids’ more than them, as I am always bringing work home and they observe a lot of care which goes into my role.   I am constantly looking for activities and products to bring new adventures and experiences for my students. Each year brings something new to learn and improve on and I am as passionate now as when I started.

The toughest part of my position is saying goodbye to families as they move on to a new chapter of their lives when they are posted somewhere new. These times are even harder than all the devotion, time and concern, which go into our ceremonies.

I love that my Defence students feel comfortable and secure enough to approach me with any concern or situation bothering them or that they want to share in some good news with me.   Building relationships with my students and their families takes time and trust and for me, it is a privilege to be considered their safe haven, for whatever they are experiencing at that time.

I am very fortunate to work with an amazing kaleidoscope of DTMs and DSTAs in Canberra and we are very supportive of each other.  Being a DTM/DSTA often means you are working on your own as it is such a unique school position, however having a group of excellent colleagues who are happy to share ideas and advice is very positive.

Some periods of Defence life can be particularly tough (like deployments and extended absence). How are you able to assist Defence children to transition through this period?

At Holy Spirit, we run a ‘Friendship Group’ where the children of deployed parents meet weekly throughout their parent’s absence.  During these meetings we do activities, talk about our feelings; like anger, loneliness and or pride in their serving parent and we find out how we can help the parent remaining at home.  These groups are particularly important as they normalise what our students are feeling and allows them an opportunity to vocalise their emotions in a safe and mutual environment.

JPC presents a more challenging situation as high school and college life is extremely busy and students cannot always allow for time away from their studies. Again, this is where those fostered relationships come into play, allowing the students the security of knowing that someone is there for them and has their back when they need it. I make a point of regularly checking in with all of my Defence students, even if it is just a reminder that support is available to them.

Being a DTM/DSTA and hopefully being a part of a positive and successful journey through a Defence student’s school life, is a very privileged and rewarding job.

Find out where DSTAs and DTMs are located

Recent research on the effectiveness of the DSTA program