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Defence Community Organisation

For ADF members and their families

1800 624 608

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.

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.

The Defence Special Needs Support Group provides extra peer support and programs to Defence families.

For more information about support for dependants with special needs, contact the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on DefenceFamilyHelpline@defence.gov.au or 1800 624 608.

Families wishing to find out more about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) should visit www.ndis.gov.au. The Scheme is being rolled out in stages across Australia, so visit the website to find out if it's 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 fill in a form specifying the nature of the special needs case and requirements. All special needs must be assessed or recognised by a specialised medical practitioner or psychologist. You will then need to submit the application to the DefenceFamilyHelpline@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, contact the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on DefenceFamilyHelpline@defence.gov.au or 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.

Posting visit

Where it's necessary for the dependant to visit the new location before posting, we can cover 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.

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.

Accessing services and equipment

When families are posted they may have difficulties accessing the services they need immediately in the new location, as waiting periods may apply. We provide 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).

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.

Specialised staff including REDLOs and in school Aides and Mentors can also assist you with education advice and support.

Related: Kids' education

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.

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 DefenceFamilyHelpline@defence.gov.au.

For more information or assistance with your application, contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608. There is also a CD-ROM available called Guidance to assist in your Special Needs application which can be ordered through the Helpline or picked up in your local DCO Area Office.

Download: guidelines and eligibility criteria

DSNSG

We work very 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 these families.

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