Advocating for Defence families

Pilot program launched to support Defence families in staging a career comeback

After families have asked for more time to apply, the application deadline has been extended to Wednesday, 14 September 2022.

A new pilot program for Defence family members returning to work after a hiatus from their workplace in Australia has been launched.

Through the Defence Family Career Comeback Course, immediate family members of current and former serving members of the Australian Defence Force residing in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory can learn the skills to accelerate their leadership and business capability after a period out of the workforce.

Defence Families of Australia (DFA), the Department of Defence (Defence) and the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of NSW (UNSW) are supporting this pilot program to address the barriers faced by professionals returning from a career break.

“When a person serves, their family serves alongside them,” Minister for Defence Personnel The Hon Matt Keogh said.

“By supporting the career success of the whole family, we will be working towards a better future for Defence Personnel, Veterans and Families.”

Defence family employment is an important area of focus for DFA’s advocacy work.

“Data from the 2019 ADF Family Survey suggested that even though Defence partners are more likely to be tertiary qualified than the general public, they were at the same time more likely to be unemployed,” said Defence Family Advocate of Australia, Sandi Laaksonen-Sherrin.

“There’s also likely to be a high degree of underemployment or underutilisation of expertise.

“In a cohort of at least 40,000 Defence spouses, that’s a lot of underutilised talent and a lot of potential in a modern workforce facing skills and labour shortages.”

The pilot Defence Career Comeback Course will be held in person from 15 to 17 November 2022 in Sydney.

There will be a formal application process facilitated through UNSW. Applications will be assessed by a panel consisting of a representative from DFA, Defence and UNSW. 

The pilot Defence Career Comeback Course will be run in memory of the late Mrs Victoria Holland, DFA National Delegate for Central and Northern NSW, who passed away after a brief battle with cancer in November 2021.

The pilot program is possible with the support of Defence through the Defence Member and Family Support branch.

Follow the link to apply for a Defence Career Comeback Course (Pilot) sponsorship.

Applications close Wednesday, 14 September 2022.

About Defence Families of Australia

Established in 1986, Defence Families of Australia (DFA) is the official group representing the interests of families of current serving ADF members. As the official families advisory body to the Minister for Defence Personnel and Chief of the Defence Force, we advocate for ongoing improvement in policy and practice. Our team are located all across Australia, and are family of current serving Defence members. Our advocacy drives change to decrease the negative aspects, and to support the positive aspects of Defence life.

About the AGSM Career Comeback Course

The Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney is committed to building capacity for women to reach their leadership potential. Their successful Career Comeback program aims to address the gaps in career opportunities to close the gender gap in Australian leadership. Launched in 2017, the Career Comeback Program is designed to assist women and men to re-enter the professional workforce after a period of absence, primarily but not exclusively due to family responsibilities including childcare, relocation of partner/spouse, or illness/caring for a sick family member.

Blog at