Advocating for Defence families

Our Successes


We made a submission to Joint Operations Command to reinstate the option for family reunion travel during deployment which was suspended due to the pandemic. This resulted in the reinstatement of Relief Out of Country Leave (ROCL) or Relief Out of Country Fare Assistance (ROCTFA) for members on overseas deployments.


We assisted the ADF Financial Services Consumer Centre in developing a suite of programs to support financial literacy for families.

We directly influenced the development of a dedicated families research program by the Department of Defence, to provide evidence for policy and services reforms. 

We handed over service delivery of our Partner Employment Pilot Program to a number of stakeholders who have established partner employment programs across the country.

Our team were crucial in the expansion of the Puckapunyal Housing Trial to increase the choices that families have on where they can live in a given posting area.

We successfully lobbied state and territory governments to remove restrictions preventing ADF families from accompanying their ADF member on relocation to the region, provided all pre-departure requirements (quarantine, COVID testing and vaccinations) are met.

We launched our Advocacy Map, which provides a snapshot of our current advocacy work. The aim of this document is to provide transparency of the work DFA does, and to offer the opportunity for defence families and other stakeholders to support these advocacy efforts. It will continue to developed and refined over time.

We celebrated our 35th anniversary virtually with a social media campaign. The campaign, which ran over the December 2021-January 2021 period, featured reflections from key DFA stakeholders as well as former and current team members on the value of the work we do.


Early 2020 DFA held the first ever First Five Years Webinars for each Service. Presenters included the Deputy Service Chiefs, Head of People Capability, Chaplains and DCO Helpline staff.  

COVID 19: DFA Advocated for the ADF to be supportive of our partners who are essential workers. This resulted in CDF writing in a directive that Chain of Command were to provide flexible working arrangements, where possible, for ADF members to support these partners.


DFA was given 12 months of extra funding to hire a Project Officer – Employment position. This has allowed DFA to expand its Defence Partner Friendly Employer program and advocacy efforts.

As a result of DFA’s advocacy, DHA started a project about partner home-based businesses with a view to streamlining processes and developing a method for categorising businesses.

As a result of DFA’s advocacy, the new Deputy Director Family Research position was created within the Directorate of People Intelligence and Research. This position’s sole focus is Defence family research.


DFA worked with Churchill Fellow and Career Practitioner Amanda McCue to develop the Defence Partner Friendly Employer Program. It was started to educate employers on the business case for hiring Defence partners and to facilitate the connection of partners with employers.


  • Partner Employment – DFA organised and participated in research calls to partner employment program managers in Canada and the United States for stakeholders including the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program Partner Employment Sub-Committee.
  • 2017 ADF Families Survey – DFA worked with co-sponsor DCO on promoting the survey which garnered the largest number of responses to-date. The results – such as the unemployment rate of partners being 14% compared to 6% nationally – confirmed how important this issue is.
  • Communication to families – Partly in response to DFA feedback on the importance of communication to families, a section that is accessible to families was built and added to the secure Defence e-portal ForceNet. A trial began in late 2017 and DFA was a member of the ForceNet Families Working Group.
  • Community Centre Committee Training – As a result of DFA advocacy, DCO funded and arranged governance training for the coordinators and committees of the Defence community groups.
  • Defence announced their plans to expand the window security screen retrofit program to remaining homes in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.
  • DFA participated in the DVA Veterans’ Families Policy Forum.


  • Partner Employment and the ADF Families Survey – Throughout 2015 and 2016 DFA researched the issue of ADF Partner Employment here in Australia, speaking with not-for-profits, businesses and government already operating in this space or with valuable insight to offer. DFA used this knowledge to work with Defence researchers in late 2016 on the partner employment questions in the 2017 ADF Families Survey.
  • ADF Family Support Project – Throughout the year DFA researched the policy and philosophical framework underpinning military family support in Canada, the United States and the UK. This research showed that these countries prioritised building strong Defence family communities through family inclusion and readiness (as opposed to just crisis support). DFA recommended, and it was agreed by Defence, that policy here in Australia needed to be reviewed in light of these findings.
  • As a result of one of DFA’s recommendations in the 2015 Community Centre Report to increase stability and communications between the Defence community groups, DCO established the Community Support Coordinator Pilot Program which provided funding for community groups to employ a coordinator outside of the Family Support Funding Program.
  • As a direct result of DFA advocacy about security concerns in Adelaide, a retrofit program for window security screens began on homes in the Playford City region.
  • DFA continued to advocate for reliable and reasonably-priced internet connectivity in Service Residences. As a result of DFA advocacy all homes on RMC Duntroon were connected.


  • The Directorate of People Research February 2015 Publication Member with Dependants (Unaccompanied): understanding the needs of and impact on members and their families was released. This research was the direct result of DFA advocacy. The publication concluded that more research was likely required to fully understand the complex issues surrounding a member’s choice to be posted and located without their family.
  • Worked with Defence Policy makers providing consultation and a family perspective on housing needs for ADF families and input to the Housing Policy Review Settings committee.
  • Provided feedback on the Vietnam Veterans Families Study.
  • Consulted on the proposed changes to the Defence childcare policy as articulated in the Defence Family Support Manual. As access to appropriate and affordable child care is an important issue for families, DFA maintained that it should remain a Defence policy priority. DFA also supported the efforts being made by Defence to ensure assistance will be sustainable, on-going and meets the needs of families.
  • Tabled a report on Defence Community Centres  – At the DFA Conference Week in Aug 2014, AMINDEF asked DFA to report on what facilities and support services should be available to families on or near ADF Bases.  In early 2015, DFA asked most of the Defence-supported community centres and groups to answer a fixed set of questions to gather this information.  Our report was based on the responses of 24 of the incorporated groups who received grants through the Family Support Funding Program (FSFP).
  • Worked in consultation with Defence Community Organisation (DCO) on their Community Capacity Building Framework


  • DFA requested advice on how the Privacy Act has been interpreted and whether services can be proactively offered and reinstated.
  • DVA  requested DFA provide feedback on the DVA Draft Social Health Strategy 2014 for the Veteran and Ex-service Community
  • Providing support for a Funded Review of the lateral recruiting process across the whole ADF, from start (identifying vacancies) through to finish (posting on from initial posting) and that the Review’s recommendations are correctly funded to allow implementation.  This Brief was followed by a whole of Defence Lateral Recruiting Study.
  • Sale of DHA – Consultation with the Scoping Study Review Team to discuss the importance of housing to Australian Defence Force families.  DFA presented a submission as further evidence of the issues and concerns which face Defence families with regard to our housing.
  • Report on School Starting Age to Assistant Minister for Defence – A uniform starting age would help families who move between States, particularly those with children sitting for national benchmark testing (Naplan) in Year 3 and Year 5.


  • Expedited citizenship for families of lateral transfers was implemented after many years of lobbying.
  • Live-in childcare was permitted in service residences, without loss of entitlement.
  • The ADF Family Health Trial was offered to all Defence families nationwide, assisting with cost of basic and allied health care needs.
  • Improvements made in accessibility and visibility of family support information: prominent links on Defence home page for families; DCO is on Facebook; DVA improvements with At Ease website, production of apps and YouTube videos.
  • Defence Family Pins were developed and available to families by contacting the National Welfare Coordination Centre (NWCC).
  • Veterans and Veterans’ Families Counselling Service (VVCS) eligibility was expanded to include non-warlike service, including Operation Resolute and their families.
  • Research ideas into the impact on family when caring for wounded and injured is being discussed.
  • Community Grants funding have been approved in a shorter time frame this year.


  • Successfully lobbied for legislative change to fast track citizenship for partners and children over 16 years of age in ADF Lateral Recruit families. The submission of the Private Members Bill by Liberal MP Stuart Robert was followed up by legislation from Minister for Defence Personnel Warren Snowdon and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen which extended the provisions to also include elderly dependant parents.
  • Made a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry on the Care of ADF Personnel Wounded and Injured on Operations.
  • Involvement in development of mental health resources with DVA.
  • Assisted Defence in reaching family members during the 2012 ADF Families Survey through social media and extensive member database.
  • Made submissions to Defence to request Member with Dependant status for single parents in shared and regular parenting arrangements, in alignment with the Child Support Agency.


  • Partner Education and Employment Program (PEEP) Funding. Following discussions with Minister Snowdon surrounding the importance of the PEEP program to families relocating, the total pool of funding was increased to $3 million and partners of junior ADF members will be able to access a one-off payment of $3000, following eligible service being completed by the ADF member.
  • Grassroots DCO services. Gaps between family expectations of Defence support services in posting locations and the availability of support staff were highlighted and prioritisation has been placed on filling these positions.
  • Mental Health. The shift in focus on the mental health of the entire Defence Family unit as well as the ADF member was highlighted. The DFA National Convenor has now been appointed to the Mental Health Advisory Board and DFA has been informed that a trial of families being involved in Post-Operational Psychological Screening will begin.
  • DFA’s calls for guides and suitable programs to orientate and support families stepping through Defence has been ongoing over the past few years. DFA welcomed the launch of DCO’s FamilySMART trial to address this.
  • ADF Personnel Steering Branch’s improvements to joining information follows DFA’s calls for guides for families ‘Stepping Through Defence’.
  • Feedback from DFA on HomeFind and customer service issues informed the new dashboard for Defence Housing Australia’s Online Services which will make it easier for families to select and live in a service residence.
  • Development of a joint publication with ADF Financial Services Consumer Council to better equip and inform new recruits from overseas.
  • Improvements made to recruiting process of overseas members so that their families are better prepared for living in Australia with regard to citizenship. (Work continues with the Immigration Department to extend citizenship for all family members from overseas recruits and thus equality for all Defence Families.)
  • Working with the ADF Financial Services Consumer Council to better explain compensation and benefits paid following injury or the death of an ADF member.
  • Proposed Kids Meals be introduced into the Defence Mess Services contract during the next round of negotiations.

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