If you would like to receive regular contact from us during your family member’s deployment, register with the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608. This contact allows you to ask any questions or express any concerns you may have, and allows us to inform you of local activities, groups and support services or community resources you may need.
Defence provides a range of support to the families of deployed ADF members.
You can access any of these services or find out more by calling the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.
You may contact the all hours Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 at any time about deployment matters. The Helpline is staffed by qualified human services professionals, including social workers and psychologists, who can provide you with assessment, advice or referrals.
This service should not replace Triple‑Zero for emergency situations.
If needed, we can supply short-term casework and counselling services from Defence Social Workers to help you through any difficulties.
Related: Health & wellbeing
Resources are available for parents with information and tips for supporting children through deployments, from very young children to teenagers.
The member’s unit will often run events for Defence families, including information sessions, farewells, social get-togethers and welcome home events. Unit welfare officers and ADF chaplains are available to provide support and guidance to members and families at any stage of deployment. Talk to unit staff directly for more information.
If an emergency or crisis occurs when an ADF member is away from home, the family may access practical assistance. We also offer support in times of injury, illness or bereavement.
Related: Emergency support
Your community is a rich bank of support to draw on, with resources and structures in place which can help you through times of deployment. We keep a directory of local Defence- and community‑run initiatives and we can help you to connect with the organisations, groups or events that best suit your needs.
DCO holds a variety of local events to support the families of deployed members, including farewell and welcome back events, workshops and family activities.
Community groups may run programs which build on your life skills, keep you active and engaged in the community, or help you network with other Defence families to share experiences and support each other.
Related: Your community
DCO runs a suite of local programs called FamilySMART, TeenSMART and KidSMART. The SMART sessions help you identify and build on your strengths, learn techniques to cope with the challenges of military life like deployment, and become more resilient, positive and self-reliant.
FamilySMART is for partners, TeenSMART for teenagers from Defence families, and KidSMART for primary aged children.
For any queries or to sign up for a SMART program, contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.
Support for kids
Communicating truthfully and openly with children about deployments is important to help them understand and cope with a parent being away. If possible, prepare the child for what is going to happen in advance, explaining clearly where, why and for how long the parent is going away. This helps dispel uncertainties and fears, or any belief that the separation is their fault.
Encourage children to express their feelings, perhaps by sharing some of your own. It can help for each parent to spend time individually with each child prior to and after deployment to encourage communication and to let them know that they are loved. Special time together helps to cement bonds and provides positive memories.
Involve older children in the planning and preparation for deployment, especially in figuring out new roles and responsibilities in the member’s absence. Keep the usual rules, expectations, and discipline in place in the parent’s absence, and establish a new routine as early as possible.
Encourage children to keep a record of special events in their lives through art, photos, stories or scrapbooks, which they can send to their deployed parent or show them when they get home.
Related: Deployment, time apart and reunion
We have resources available for parents with tips and information about guiding children through deployments, from very young children to teenagers. These include the Absence from home support booklet, and the Don’t Forget it’s Bin Night and Going Solo - Dealing with Absence in Defence families DVDs. The DVDs are a great resource to watch as a family, and can be a useful tool for starting a discussion about what deployment will mean for you.
We also produce a range of children’s books which are designed to help younger children understand more about the military lifestyle and develop coping strategies for parental absence.
These free resources are available for order from the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.
Related: Programs and products for kids
Children are often unable to articulate their feelings and thoughts as adults do. If they are having trouble dealing with stress and changes during deployment, it will often present in their behaviour or in health complaints. If you or your children are having difficulties, you can access help, advice or referral by calling the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.
Defence School Transition Aides and Mentors are placed in schools across Australia, and provide support to Defence students in times of parental absence.
Children can use deployment as an opportunity to step up, assume new responsibilities and confidence in themselves, and grow as a person. To help them do this, local DCO offices run fun and interactive resilience-building programs designed for Defence kids called KidSMART and TeenSMART.
We also have services to help identify local events and groups for Defence families. These can give Defence children the chance to meet kids in the same situation as themselves, have a lot of fun and feel part of and proud of the Defence community.