Advocating for Defence families

Who to call in an emergency?

Definitions of Emergency:

Macquarie Dictionary: An unforeseen occurrence; a sudden and urgent occasion for action.

Defence partner: I‘m so sick I need to go to hospital, I have a young child, my ADF member is away and I just moved here so I know no one to help care for either me or my child.

Defence life can be unpredictable and on rare occasions, stretch a family beyond their limits.

Defence Community Organisation (DCO) provides short-term financial assistance in these unforeseen and urgent situations, most commonly when these arise where a member is absent from home for service reasons, or due to hospitalisation.

Phone the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 to discuss what’s happening for you. The Helpline worker (commonly a social worker or psychologist) will assess the extent of the emergency and your family’s needs, and develop a support plan.

Depending on their recommendations, you may receive assistance for dependant care, specialist dependant care, housekeeping, child minding, respite care or travel for immediate family to provide support for you and/or children.

Often a referral will also be made to one of DCO’s locally based Defence social workers who will work with you to develop a longer term strategy to ensure the wellbeing of your family for the remainder of the member’s absence.

A range of benefits for ADF members and their families attract Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) for the ADF member. This short-term financial assistance is one of those benefits. As these amounts can be significant and may affect other payments or benefits received, it’s a good idea to understand any financial implications of FBT on your situation.

Your situation may require that the ADF member returns to you as soon as possible. In an emergency, support for an ADF member can include compassionate leave allowances, assistance for travel within Australia or a special return to Australia (in the case of an overseas deployment for example).

It’s important that your ADF member talks to their immediate supervisor to discuss the best way forward and start putting plans in place. In such situations, DCO’s Helpline staff or a Defence social worker in your area might contact you as part of an assessment requested by Command which will assist them in making a decision about the member’s return home.

For longer term compassionate issues, where the nature of the problem may be ongoing or prolonged rather than a crisis or emergency, Command may cancel or alter the member’s posting order (usually for a specified period). In the Navy this is referred to as a Compassionate Posting, in Army a COPAS Report, and in Air Force a Request for Preferential Treatment.

Read more from the Defence Community Organisation

Defence Family Helpline 1800 624 608

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