This edition’s theme is deployment from the member’s perspective, with interviews with the crew of HMAS TOOWOOMBA about their deployment late last year and with Air Force member Dee Irwin, who served in Afghanistan as part of Operation SLIPPER.
Winter is also the time when many families receive information about where they’re headed to next. We have a number of articles to help you with this posting period with contact details for the Defence Relocations and Housing Managers as well as information from Toll Transitions about the new relocations process.
Finally, a reminder that we take submissions from Defence families—and we love ideas about articles or topics as well! Our copy deadline for the next edition is 29 September 2010. So if you have something for us, please let us know.
firstname.lastname@example.org Michael Hughes, Editor
DCO offices at Liverpool and Wagga Wagga are trialling the use of the social networking site Facebook to communicate with families. If you’re in those regions, use Facebook regularly, and are interested in being part of the trial then please sign up. Our DCO Communication team will then evaluate the use of Facebook and develop a way ahead for future DCO use.
To join up search for DCO Wagga and DCO Liverpool from your Facebook account.
Visit the dfm webpage for online–only content
Sadly, we can’t include all content submitted for publishing in this hardcopy version of dfm—there just aren’t enough pages! The stories that we cannot publish in print we post to the dfm website. Last edition we trialled marrying the online–only content with the PDF copy of the magazine sent to homes and it worked a treat. So we will be continuing this for future editions.
www.defence.gov.au/dco/dfm.htm The current edition of dfm along with all past editions are available online. We also have text-only versions of editions from 2008 onward, so if you want to copy and paste information from the magazine then access the text–only version.
[This table of contents refers to the page numbers in the magazine itself]
Message from Mick Callan, Director General Defence Community Organisation 3
Messages to the Troops 4
Celebrate Bubs n’ Pets 6
Defence Families of Australia news 8
Special musicals for special needs 10
DCO celebrates National Families Week 11
Tourists—but no passport or visa required 15
Review of Emergency Support for Families scheme 16
Your family’s health and wellbeing during deployment 23
Protect yourself from identity theft 24
The Special Needs Program application process has been streamlined 25
DCO Brisbane’s Operation HOMECOMING 25
Take a PEEP at your future 26
Spotlight on Navy deployment 27
Being over there 31
Changes to removal and relocation contract 32
Moved address? Move your vote! 33
Defence Relocations and Housing Managers are there to assist
you during your relocation 34
Defence Community Organisation contact details 36
Advertising in dfm: dfm does not take paid advertising, though we do provide space for not-for-profit organisations that directly provide services for ADF members and their families. If you’re looking to advertise your products or services direct to members then you can’t go past the Service Newspapers for reaching that demographic. Please call the Advertising Manager for more information on 02 6266 7605 or email email@example.com
[The online-only content as text is also included. See Page 37 onward]
Message from Mick Callan
Director General Defence Community Organisation
Welcome to the winter 2010 edition of defence family matters.
When someone joins the Australian Defence Force they do so knowing that they may be called on to go overseas in defence of Australia’s national interests. Serving members leave behind their family and friends, the comforts of home-life, the simple yet special experiences of attending their kids’ sporting events and plays. They travel far away for long periods to a sometimes lonely existence, especially for those personnel at the sharp end of a deployment. The family members left behind can find it difficult to relate to the day-to-day experiences of their loved one, and the impacts of deployment can indelibly shape the family’s future.
In this edition of dfm we have an article from the editor of Navy’s quarterly publication Seatalk. Lieutenant Commander Antony Underwood talked with members of the crew of HMAS TOOWOOMBA about their recent deployment in support of anti-piracy operations off the horn of Africa. We also have an interview with Corporal Dee Irwin, an Air Force Clerk who was deployed away from her daughter as part of Operation SLIPPER in Afghanistan. We hope these articles help readers better understand what it’s like to be deployed for a long period and how families can stay connected with their loved ones.
Defence recognises that families with members deployed from home may need additional assistance. The National Welfare Coordination Centre (NWCC) can provide extra help to those families—see the inner back cover for their contact details. DCO can also keep in touch with families and check how the family is coping in the member’s absence, and provide further support if asked for. A member can ask for this support before their deployment, or their family can contact DCO to request it themselves.
In May DCO offices across the country came together with their local communities to celebrate National Families Week. We had a terrific turnout and attendees at the various events had a great deal of fun, socialised with other Defence families, and obtained handy information about their local communities. I went along to the Canberra event at Questacon, along with five hundred other Defence family members, and had a marvellous time exploring the interactive exhibits—and as a former paratrooper I can certainly recommend the free-fall exhibit!
Hosting National Families Week events at local venues gave Defence families an opportunity to experience some of the community facilities and services offered in posting locations. Your local community can surprise you with the variety and quality of services, resources, events, projects, cultural experiences and activities designed to enrich the life of its families and residents. In this edition of dfm, Kerriann Ellery writes about her and her partner’s mission to explore and experience their new posting location west of Sydney—her experience as a tourist in her hometown is sure to inspire.
Why? By Chaplain Christine Senini, RAN
Hello, and thank you for your time. I often wonder about the timing of things and why they happen. Is it fate? Coincidence? Sometimes I call them ‘God-incidences’.
I was recently at Defence Plaza in Melbourne to attend one of the Transition Seminar sessions. I had been feeling pretty down and had a lot of hard thinking to do and had returned to my car when one of the security personnel approached me.
He was cheerful and brimming with enthusiasm and had seen my name on the car parking log—he had missed me coming in but was very keen to talk with me. It turns out that he was a ‘Nasho’, one of Australia’s National Servicemen.
In 2007, when I was posted as the Chaplain to the Royal Australian Navy Recruit School, I was fortunate enough to lead a National Servicemen’s Association Annual Memorial Service. I combined the Memorial Service with the routine Navy Recruit School Church Service, which is held on the Sunday of the first two weeks of each Recruit intake.
That particular Memorial Service had stuck with this Nasho. He told me that he often thought of it, and read and reread the memorial service booklet that I had prepared for the occasion. He had waited for me to arrive, and had gone looking for me to thank me and tell me that he still really appreciated the service and the booklet. All the Nashos had particularly enjoyed the time they were able to spend with the Recruits, especially during mornos after the service.
The memorial service, including the booklet, had probably taken me a week to put together, mostly in my own time. I have always done them that way and at times, I have been asked ‘why’, and whether I had ‘nothing better to do’.
A week of my time is nothing compared to the sacrifice that people make for their country and the Defence Force. It is the least I can do. Spending time in the Defence Force is life changing. Our experiences, all the positives and any negatives, can stay with us—Defence life is something we never forget. The opportunity to reflect, to remember, to pray, and to show that somebody cares, and to share that with Nashos, Vietnam Veterans, returned, ex-service, or currently serving personnel, and their families, is an opportunity and an honour that I treasure. I am embarrassed by the Nasho’s gratitude. It is me who is thankful.
As Chaplains, we spend a lot of time teaching character guidance. I think one of the best ways that we can illustrate ‘character’ is to talk about and remember those who have served. I believe it is important we show there is also honour, courage, and loyalty in listening, having respect, and showing why we care. As we remember those who have gone before us, we in turn will be remembered.
That moment in the car park helped me remember one thing: it’s not the job, it’s the people. People will make emotional and personal investments that will stay with them as long as they live. They will literally give their life to an organisation they believe in, that they trust, and that they have faith in. As an organisation and as a family, every decision we make can strengthen that belief and trust, or it can destroy it. I pray that as each of us makes decisions, we remember why.
National Service was introduced in Australia in 1951 to 1959 and again from 1964 to 1972. Over-all around 270,000 Australians undertook National Service.
Messages to the Troops
Australians are encouraged to send goodwill messages of a general nature to ADF soldiers, sailors, airmen and women who are on operations around the world. Messages can be sent via fax to 02 6265 1099.
Or via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, postcards (not enveloped letters or parcels) can be addressed to: Messages to the Troops
Department of Defence
Celebrate Defence Bubs’N’Pets
Has your Defence family welcomed a new member to the fold recently? If so we want to know, and we ask you to share a pic of your bundle of joy with the rest of the Defence family. Please only send us clear, high resolution images. Email: email@example.com
In the Autumn 2010 dfm we created a category of new recruits. It turns out that photos of Defence kids sneaking into mum and dad’s kit for dress-ups is a well embraced phenomenon! If you have a pic of your child dressing up then let us know.
If you’ve a pet that’s as much a part of your Defence family as the two legged sentient kind then we want pics of them too.
Defence Families of Australia news From the National Convenor
An amazing phenomenon occurs in Canberra in winter. Ask anyone when it gets cold and they’ll tell you that come Anzac Day, on goes the heater … and it stays on! I trust those of you living in the northern climes are enjoying the winter more than I?
Common themes that have arisen of late relate to housing, non custodial parents, de facto relationships, education issues, and mental health support.
When we receive feedback from a family, this feedback is then discussed with the relevant areas within Defence, in order to flag the problem with them and identify ways in which they can clarify or resolve the issue. In some cases, inconsistent messages can lead to confusion, and a lack of awareness of the policy or entitlement escalates the initial problem in the first place.
Defence Families of Australia (DFA) is working at identifying ways to help Defence simplify the delivery of information that families receive so that families have greater awareness of Defence life and services and are therefore empowered to make their own informed choices and decisions.
A word of thanks…
…to DCO for their efforts in running the family day events held around the country for National Families Week in May. Families are important, and we are grateful for the celebration that was provided to honour and acknowledge this.
…to the DFA executive and senior representatives—a team of amazing volunteers. I applaud them for their passion and dedication in their representation of families from their regions.
And welcome to…
Welcome aboard to our new communications officer Amita Tandukar. If you have a communication idea or want to talk about providing information to Defence families then contact Amita.
‘Stepping though’ the 2010 conference
Since our training week in February, we have been setting the scene for our June conference. Over the past few months you may have been invited to attend a meeting or been requested to provide input to our pre-conference survey online. The conference is an opportunity for the DFA executive to evaluate this input. We invite a large number of senior Defence representatives, including representatives from DCO, Defence Housing Australia and Toll Transitions, to speak with the delegates and answer questions we will be asking on your behalf.
From feedback we have received from families so far, housing has been rated as the high priority area for most families. With the change of the removals contact—with Toll Transitions now providing removal and relocation administration services—coming to effect in July, we venture into new territory. DFA will continue to provide input to the housing and removals space.
I will provide you with outcomes of the conference in the next edition of dfm.
Julie Blackburn, National Convenor “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough”—Mae West DFA updates
Over the past few months we have received many phone calls and emails from single members with children. It was brought to our attention that it is difficult for these members to access information regarding their family circumstance. As a result we have been advocating on their behalf for improvements in this policy space. We have also redeveloped our webpage to assist single parents to access information, and have created an icon on our home page to link them to information specific to their needs. If you have any information that may further assist in this area, we welcome your feedback and input.
DFA has been advocating the need for a national curriculum since its origin 24 years ago. On 1 March this year the Draft National Curriculum was launched in Canberra by the then Prime Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd and the then Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister for Education, the Hon Julia Gillard. The Draft National Curriculum is a starting point to overcoming educational challenges for Defence children. Defence families have indicated what they want from a national curriculum is consistency in starting ages, in preparatory schooling, hand writing style, transition from primary school to high school, and awarding of leaving certificates. We raised these points directly with the then Prime Minister and the then Deputy Prime Minister at the launch. DFA welcomes the changes to education, and will continue to advocate the needs of consistency for Defence children. By the time dfm is out we will have met with DCO’s Joan Gilbert, Manager of Education and Special Needs, and a member of the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) during the conference held in June for further discussion around this.
Editor’s Note: DCO through the Manager Education Policy and Special Needs and the Regional Education Liasion Officers continue to work in partnership with ACARA and the State and Territory education systems raising the awareness of the educational challenges facing children of ADF members. Be part of DFA
You can show support for DFA’s goals of representing the needs of the modern Defence family by subscribing to our family information network. Please take a few minutes to enter your details on the website. You will receive quarterly DFA news bulletins updating you on DFA activities, including the outcomes of conference week.
Your regional DFA National Delegate Keron Wise: ACT/Southern NSW firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim McKay: Victoria/Tasmania email@example.com
Debbie Yates: Western Australia/Pilbara firstname.lastname@example.org
Marion Donohue: NT/Kimberley email@example.com
Dannii Khan: North Queensland firstname.lastname@example.org
Jillian Macey: South Queensland email@example.com
Julie Dryden: Central NSW firstname.lastname@example.org
Emma Ward: Administration officer Emma.email@example.com
(*South Australian position vacant at time of print) DFA contact details
DFA website: www.dfa.org.au
DFA Family Help Line: 1800 100 509
DFA email feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
Snapshot on Defence Families of Australia
Defence Families of Australia represents the views of families directly to Defence and the Government. Comprised largely of a group of volunteer spouses, the current DFA executive has a combined total of over 140 years of ‘marriage to the forces’ and has completed over 50 postings. DFA’s aim is to improve the quality of life for all Defence families by providing recommendations and reports as received from family members, therefore influencing policy that directly affects Defence families, and ultimately enhancing the capability of the Defence force.
Special musicals for special needs
Ten years ago, Melbourne played host to the Australian Premiere of Mamma Mia. Ten years ago, 58 people from Wodonga, Puckapunyal, Geelong, Mornington, Sale and various parts of Melbourne found themselves singing and dancing in the aisles at Mamma Mia in what would become the first of many visits to the theatre. Nearly all were mums who cared for children who had special needs. This outing provided them with much needed respite, fun and the opportunity to network with other families as part of the newly established ‘Connecting Families’ program provided by the Defence Special Needs Support Group (DSNSG).
Ten years on, the DSNSG Melbourne group decided to go back to where it all started and once again see Mamma Mia. Those attending were some of the original families, back in Melbourne after several years being posted to various locations around Australia.
Little did the group know that a treat was in store for those families who saw the original production with a special meet and greet with the stars after the show.
The DSNSG ‘Connecting Families’ program has now grown and encompasses our groups in other states and territories. Already, families around Australia have seen The Phantom of the Opera, The Boy from Oz, Wicked, Deep Purple, Disney on Ice, Chicago, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Jersey Boys and Avenue Q. The Melbourne group will shortly be seeing West Side Story and later in the year families from Melbourne and Darwin will see Mary Poppins.
DSNSG subsidises carers and families to attend these events through donations provided by Defcredit and from fundraising activities.
DSNSG contact details
Phone: 1800 037 674
DCO celebrates National Families Week
In May this year DCO offices across Australia held activities for families as part of the National Families Week celebrations.
DCO Adelaide hosted their National Families Week celebrations at the Adelaide Zoo. A tour of the panda enclosure was a highlight for all, with Wang Wang and Funi at their adorable best. The sun was shining and families enjoyed the fun relaxed atmosphere of the zoo—a fantastic way to celebrate and thank our many Defence families.
DCO Amberley, in partnership with Ipswich City Council hosted a party in Queens Park, Ipswich. A jumping castle, rock climbing wall, face painting, sausage sizzle, camel rides, live music and fantastic weather made for a superb day for family fun and relaxation. There were also displays from No 2 Airfield Defence Squadron, No 382 Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron Fire Section and 99 Force Support Battalion as well as local community business and organisation information stalls. We would like to thank everyone who volunteered their time to make the day a wonderful success. It was wonderful to see the Defence and local community coming together for some family fun.
‘Jazz in the Park’ was the theme for celebrations in Brisbane, with both military and civilian families enjoying the music of two local school bands and an excellent set by the Australian Army Band Brisbane Stage Band. As the music played, the kids climbed the rock wall and slurped snow cones. A relaxed atmosphere in perfect weather made for a lovely lazy Sunday afternoon, and stallholders from the local community provided useful district information.
DCO Cairns held a community beach picnic at the beautiful tropical paradise of Monkman Beach, Green Island National Park. Fifty families enjoyed quality family time together and experienced the best of the Cairns region as they swam, snorkelled, and participated in sandcastle building competitions and beach cricket. The day concluded with a picturesque boat ride back into Cairns, reminding everyone how lucky they are to be living in such a gorgeous place.
Darwin hosted their National Families Week event at the Northern Territory Wildlife Park in Berry Springs. Show bags, maps and a ‘quest’ competition helped families explore the park, and during the lunchtime sausage sizzle DCO staff members ran interactive family games, with thong throwing, emu egg-and-spoon races and sack races being the order of the day. Certificates where handed out to the local community groups in recognition of National Volunteers Week, and the family day cake was cut by the Commanding Officer of HMAS Coonawarra, Commander Richard Donnelly, and Family Liaison officer Sharyn Lauder.
Defence Tasmanian families kicked off their families week early with their attending AGFEST 2010—an annual agricultural festival which attracts hundreds of exhibitors and tens of thousands of people. In addition to the stalls from businesses, government—and of course DCO—the three day event had lots of fun stuff like horse displays, motorcycle and vehicle displays, as well as rescue and animal competitions. With Carrick in the north of the Apple Isle the Air Force kindly transported our Southern families to the event. Families loved AGFEST and we’re aiming to do this again in 2010.