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Defence Community Organisation

For ADF members and their families

1800 624 608

Dependants with special needs

DCO provides practical assistance to Defence families who have dependants with special needs. This assistance especially focuses on reducing the impact of relocations and minimising any interruption to specialist services that the dependant needs. The assistance available is not intended to duplicate services provided in the new locality; but aims to provide interim assistance to ensure continuity of care where dependants would otherwise be placed on a waiting list, until government supported services can be accessed For further information refer to PACMAN Chap. 8, Part 6 – Dependants with special needs.

In order to receive any of the assistance and support services available, you will first need to have your dependant with special needs formally recognised by Defence.

For more information about support for dependants with special needs, contact the Dependants With Special Needs (DWSN) Program on dwsn.program@defence.gov.au or the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.

The Defence Special Needs Support Group (DSNSG) provides extra peer support and programs to Defence families. You can contact the DSNSG by phoning 1800 037 674 or follow them on Facebook.

Families wishing to find out more about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) should visit www.ndis.gov.au to find out the services available in your area.

Recognition of dependants with special needs

In order to receive any of the assistance and support services available, you will first need to have your dependant with special needs formally recognised by Defence. You can have your dependant recognised at any time.

The definition of special needs includes children and adults, and covers a wide spectrum of cases including physical, intellectual, sensory, learning or behavioural difficulties, or psychiatric illnesses or disorders. It also includes academically gifted or talented children.

To gain formal recognition, you will need to complete an AC832 form, the form must specify the nature of the special needs, as assessed or recognised by a specialist medical practitioner or psychologist. Completed forms can be submitted for processing to the dwsn.program@defence.gov.au.

Once your dependant is recognised by Defence, you may be entitled to receive assistance in the event of a posting.

To access any of this assistance or to find out more, email the DWSN Program at dwsn.program@defence.gov.au or the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.

Relocations, housing and education

Once your dependant is recognised by Defence, you may be entitled to receive assistance in the event of a posting.

Assessment of assistance on posting

Before you move, you will need to apply for an assessment of assistance to determine what the dependant requires and what support Defence may provide in the new location.

Pre-posting visit

Where it's necessary for the dependant to visit the new location before posting, we can assist with accommodation and travel costs for the dependant and one family member. This is only granted in instances where it’s not possible to make arrangements for support from the old location or there's a definite requirement for face-to-face contact with a department or institution in the new location. For further information refer to PACMAN Chap 8 Part 6 Section 8.6.7.

Special assistance during removals

During the move to your new posting location, you may apply for special accommodation and travel arrangements, or a valet unpacking service on arrival. Once you have been approved for this assistance, you can make arrangements through your Toll Transitions case manager before the move. For more information, visit PACMAN Chap 8 Part 6 section 8.6.13.

Accessing services and equipment

When families are posted they may have difficulties accessing the services they require or had previously in last posting location, as waiting periods may apply. We may provide interim assistance toward costs for interim services or equipment until the state or territory government agencies can deliver the service. We can assist with respite care, personal care, therapy services, special equipment hire, and early intervention programs (promoting the development of preschool aged children with special needs). For more information, visit PACMAN Chap 8 Part 6 Section 8.6.9-10.

Special housing needs

Where the dependant has special housing needs, Defence Housing Australia can provide assistance with allocation or modification of housing in the new location, and accommodation while in transit. Visit www.dha.gov.au for more information.

Education assistance

You may receive assistance with access to programs or services your dependant requires which are not available from the new school or other government agencies. This may include:

  • funding for a therapy service or tuition not provided at the school but critical to educational progress
  • assessment of needs, toward development of an educational program, or
  • reimbursement of private schooling costs, where a necessary special program is only available at a private school.

Specialist staff including Education Liaison Officers and in school aides and mentors can also assist you with education advice and support.

For more information, visit PACMAN Chap 8 Part 4 Division 2 section 8.4.14, Children with special needs.

Related: Kids' education

How to apply

To apply, fill out the relevant form for the service you require and submit it along with all supporting documentation to the dwsn.program@defence.gov.au.

For more information or assistance with your application, contact the DWSN Program via email to dwsn.program@defence.gov.au or the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.

DSNSG

DCO works closely with the Defence Special Needs Support Group, which provides a national network of peer support to Defence families with a special needs dependant. The Group delivers information, assistance and advocacy for Defence families with special needs.

Contact: 1800 037 674 | ceo@dsnsg.org.au | http://dsnsg.org.au/