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Defence Community Organisation

For ADF members and their families

1800 624 608


DCO provides a range of services and resources for Defence children, to assist with the transition between schools and education systems when families move, and to provide support for the unique needs of Defence students.

We recognise that some Defence children may experience disruption to the academic and social aspects of their schooling each time they move for a posting. We have a range of services and resources on offer which work to assist with the transition between schools and education systems, and provide support for the unique needs of Defence children.

This support includes:

  • specialised staff, Regional Education Liaison Officers, in each State to advise families and schools on education issues and Defence student wellbeing,
  • funding for in-school support staff, Aides and Mentors, to help Defence students integrate into a new school and provide them with support,
  • financial assistance for some education costs incurred as a result of relocations, and
  • regional education information to inform families about the major differences between the state and territory education systems.


Regional Education Liaison Officers, or REDLOs, give education support to Defence families as they move around the country, providing information, advice, referral and specialised assistance.
This includes:

  • informing families about local schools and education systems and working with parents, students and teachers to manage the transition to a new, location and school,
  • linking families with special education providers, resources or support agencies according to their children’s individual needs (including special needs students),
  • working with schools to ensure a supportive educational environment and to raise awareness of issues facing Defence children,
  • informing families about Defence support services available, including financial assistance entitlements.

Aides & Mentors

To minimise the impact of the mobile lifestyle on children’s education, DCO provides funding to schools with high numbers of enrolments of Defence children.  

The Defence School Transition Aide (DSTA) Program provides funding to support schools engage a Defence School Transition Aide (DSTA) or Defence Transition Mentor (DTM) to minimise the impact of mobility on education and build the capability of the school to support Defence students particularly during transitions into and out of the school and during parental absences.

The aim of the DSTA Program is to facilitate the best possible educational outcome for children of Defence members through on-site, direct and flexible assistance to students, parents, teachers and other support services.

This program is a reflection of the commitment by Defence to support its members and their families and recognises the partnership between education authorities, Defence and schools.

Funding and program guidelines

The DSTA Program is funded annually and each allocation is determined by eligibility criteria which determine the amount of funding that each eligible school is entitled to. The criteria include the following:

  • number of students who are dependants of full time serving Defence members
  • rate of mobility in the local posting location, and/or isolation of posting location
  • operational tempo of the local military base or training facility

Other factors which are considered:

  • school commitment to continuous improvement in response to Defence family needs
  • school commitment to the DSTA Program and compliance to the governance requirements as detailed in the program guidelines If at anytime you would like any information regarding the DSTA program send an email to

In-school support

DSTAs and DTMs are based within primary and secondary schools across Australia for the purpose of providing support to the children of mobile Defence families.

Aides and Mentors' activities include:

  • assisting children and families to integrate into the new school and local community,
  • monitoring the social, emotional and academic wellbeing of Defence students,
  • helping students develop self-confidence, self-reliance and resilience,
  • referring students to services, or school and community programs that meet their needs,
  • enhancing awareness and appreciation of the unique Defence lifestyle in schools and communities, and
  • providing support to children during times of parental absence.
  • Find out which schools are currently supported by the DSTA Program in the tabs below, or contact the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 for more information.



School Location
Adamstown Public School Adamstown
Ashtonfield Public School Ashtonfield
Bomaderry High School Bomaderry
Bungendore Public School Bungendore
Cambewarra Public School Camberwarra
Forest Hill Public School Forest Hill
Francis Greenway High School Beresfield
Glendore Public School Adamstown
Glenmore Park Public School Glenmore Park
Grahamstown Public School Raymond Terrace
Hammondville Public School Hammondville
Holsworthy High School Holsworthy
Holsworthy Public School Holsworthy
Illaroo Road Public School North Nowra
Irrawang High School Raymond Terrace
Jerrabomberra Public School Jerrrabomberra
Kapooka Public School Kapooka
Kooringal High School Wagga Wagga
Kooringal Public School Kooringal
Maitland Grossmann High School East Maitland
Medowie Christian School Medowie
North Nowra Public School North Nowra
Nowra Anglican College Nowra
Nowra Christian School South Nowra
Nowra High School Nowra
Nowra Hill Public School Nowra Hill
Nowra Public School Nowra 
Oran Park Public School Oran Park
Richmond Public School Richmond
Rydalmere East Public School Ermington
Singleton Heights Public School Singleton Heights
Soldiers Point Public School Soldiers Point
South Coogee Public School South Coogee
St Aloysius Catholic Primary School Chisholm
St Brigid's Primary School Raymond Terrace
St Christopher's Primary School Holsworthy
St Georges Basin Public School Basin View
St John the Evangelist Catholic High School South Nowra
St Matthew's Primary School Windsor
St Michael's Catholic Primary School Nowra
St Monica's Primary School Windsor
St Philip's Christian College Salamander Bay
Thornton Public School Thornton
Tomaree High School Salamander Bay
Tomaree Public School Salamander Bay
Vincentia High School Vincentia
Vincentia Public School Vincentia
Wagga Wagga Christian School Wagga Wagga
Wattle Grove Public School Wattle Gove
Wirreanda Public School Medowie


School Location
Bandiana Primary School Bandiana
Baranduda Primary School Baranduda
Carranballac P-9 College Point Cook
Catholic College Wodonga Wodonga
Crib Point Primary School Crib Point
Gippsland Grammar School Sale
Guthridge Primary School Sale
Lumen Christi Point Cook
Melrose Primary School Wodonga
Puckapunyal Primary School Puckapunyal
Sale Primary School Sale
Seymour College Seymour
Somers Primary School Somers
St Joseph's Primary School Crib Point
St Monica's Primary School Wodonga
Streeton Primary School Yallambie
Victory Lutheran College Wodonga
Viewbank College Viewbank
Viewbank Primary School Viewbank
Western Port Secondary College Hastings
Wodonga Middle Years College Wodonga
Wodonga Primary School Wodonga
Wodonga Senior Secondary College Wodonga
Wodonga South Primary School Wodonga



North Queensland
School Location
Annandale Christian College Annandale
Annandale State School Annandale
Bluewater State School Bluewater
Bohlevale State School Bohlevale
Calvary Christian College Mount Louisa
Freshwater State School Freshwater
Good Shepherd Catholic School Rasmussen
Heatley State School Townsville
Holy Spirit School Cranbrook
Ignatius Park College Cranbrook
Kirwan State High School Kirwan
Kirwan State School Kirwan
Mundingburra State School Hermit Park
Northern Beaches State High Deeragun
Oonoonba State School Idalia
Redlynch State College Redlynch
Ryan Catholic College Kirwan
Southern Cross Catholic College Annandale
St Andrew's Catholic College Redlynch
St Anthony's Catholic College Deeragun
St Clare's Catholic School Burdell
St Therese's School Bentley Park
The Willows State School Kirwan
Thurwingowa State High School Condon
Townsville Grammar School Townsville
Weir State School Kirwan
William Ross State High School Annandale
South Queensland
School Location
Albany Creek State High School Albany Creek
Albany Creek State School Albany Creek
Albany Hills State School Albany Creek
All Saints Parish School Albany Creek
Amberley District State School Yamanto
Augusta State School Augustine Heights
Bounty Boulevard State School North Lakes
Brassall State School Brassall
Bray Park State School Bray Park
Bremer State High School Ipswich
Eatons Hill State School Eatons Hill
Enoggera State School Enoggera
Ferny Grove State High School Ferny Grove
Ferny Grove State School Ferny Grove
Grand Avenue State School Forest Lake
Highfields State School Highfields
Ipswich State High School Brassall
Kelvin Grove State College Kelvin Grove
Lawton State School Lawton
McDowall State School McDowall
Middle Ridge State School Middle Ridge
Mitchelton State High School Mitchelton
Mitchelton State School Mitchelton
Mt Maria College Mitchelton
Oakleigh State School Ashgrove
Our Lady of Dolours Primary School Mitchelton
Our Lady of the Assumption School Enoggera
Raceview State School Raceview
Springfield Central High School Springfield Central
Springfield Lakes State School Springfield Lakes
St Andrew's Catholic School Ferny Grove
St Augustine's College Springfield
St Edmund's College Ipswich
St Mary's College Woodend
St Mary's Primary School Ipswich
West Moreton Anglican College Karrabin


School Location
Bakewell Primary School Bakewell
Casuarina Senior College Moil
Casuarina Street Primary School Katherine
Darwin High School The Gardens
Darwin Middle School The Gardens
Durack Primary School Durack
Holy Spirit Catholic Primary Wanguri
Katherine High School Katherine
Katherine South Primary School Katherine
Larrakeyah Primary School Larrakeyah
Leanyer School Leanyer
MacKillop Catholic College Palmerston
Marrara Christian College Palmerston
O'Loughlin Catholic College Karama
Palmerston Christian School Palmerston
Palmerston Senior College Driver
Rosebery Middle School Rosebery
Rosebery Primary School Rosebery
Sacred Heart Catholic School Woodroffe
Sattler Christian College Palmerston
St Joseph's Catholic College Katherine
St Mary's Catholic Primary School Darwin
Stuart Park Primary School Stuart Park
Wanguri Primary School Wanguri


School Location
Arbour Grove Primary School Ellenbrook
Baldivis Primary School Baldivis
Baldivis Secondary College Baldivis
Charthouse Primary School Waikiki
Comet Bay College Secret Harbour
Comet Bay Primary School Secret Harbour
Ellenbrook Secondary College Ellenbrook
Endeavour Primary School Port Kennedy
Golden Bay Primary School Golden Bay
Kolbe Catholic College Rockingham
Living Waters Lutheran College Warnbro
Makybe Rise Primary School Baldivis
Malvern Springs Primary School Ellenbrook
Mother Teresa Catholic College Baldivis
Pilbara Education Regional Office Karratha
Port Kennedy Primary School Port Kennedy
Rivergums Primary School Baldivis
Rockingham Beach Primary School Rockingham
Rockingham Lakes Primary School Port Kennedy
Rockingham Senior High School Rockingham
Safety Bay Primary School Safety Bay
Safety Bay Senior High School Safety Bay
Secret Harbour Primary School Secret Harbour
Settlers Primary School Baldivis
Shenton College Shenton Park
St Bernadette's Catholic Primary School Port Kennedy
Star of the Sea Primary School Rockingham
Swanbourne Primary School Swanbourne
Tranby College Baldivis
Tuart Rise Primary School Baldivis
Waikiki Primary School Waikiki
Warnbro Community High School Warnbro


School Location
Gleeson College Golden Grove
Golden Grove High School Golden Grove
Golden Grove Primary School Golden Grove
Greenwith Primary School Greenwith
Hewett Primary School Hewett
Mawson Lakes School Mawson Lakes
Pedare Christian College Golden Grove
Playford Primary School Craigmore
St Brigid's Catholic School Evanston
Trinity College Evanston South


As they relocate around Australia, mobile Defence families may encounter differences in the way states and territories and individual schools deliver education.

Our educational advisory service can provide you with advice and information to help you make informed decisions about education options for your children.

Education advice

The My School website is a government-run website which allows you to search and compare almost 10 000 schools across Australia, and includes a find-a-school function, school performance ratings and profiles, and links to school websites.

You can source other information from the state or territory department of education, including details of:

  • local schools (including specialist schools),
  • government school term dates and public holidays,
  • support for students with special needs,
  • compulsory schooling and school entry ages,
  • state or territory curriculum (note that the Australian Curriculum is being progressively developed and implemented nation-wide), and
  • education and training policies.

However, you should contact individual schools for details of:

  • enrolments,
  • courses and programs on offer,
  • uniform requirements,
  • school fees or levies payable,
  • programs and opportunities for high-achieving students,
  • private school term dates,
  • special needs facilities and programs,
  • distance education options (for students in isolated areas or with special circumstances), and course selection for secondary students, including vocational options and prerequisite subjects for university admission.

Financial support

A range of financial support is available to help minimise disruption to schooling caused by posting. The aim is to provide the student with educational stability or limited interim assistance to help avoid or overcome any immediate difficulties with education or emotional wellbeing as a result of relocating.


Defence may reimburse fees for tutoring required to fill any gaps in understanding or curriculum caused by changing schools. Students may be entitled to up to 14 weeks of tutoring in any subject that has been identified by the school as representing a gap in learning. This applies to primary and secondary students, within the first 18 months of enrolment at the new school.

Boarding school allowances

You may choose to have your child attend boarding school, so they do not have to relocate with you and disrupt their education. In this instance, where the child is in the critical years of schooling (years 9‑12), you may be entitled to financial assistance for the compulsory tuition fees and accommodation costs of the school.

Tertiary accommodation

If your dependant is studying at a tertiary institution, and their chosen course in not available in the new posting location, financial assistance may be available for accommodation costs for the dependant to live near or at the tertiary institution. This applies only to full time undergraduate students and is capped at a maximum of three years' assistance.

Students with special needs

Practical assistance is available for dependents with special needs. This includes assessment, therapy, tuition and additional support where students had received these services in their old location and aren't able to access them at their new posting. Dependents with special needs may also be entitled to reimbursement of private schooling costs, if a necessary special program is only available at a non government school.

Scholarship loss

If a student has to give up an education scholarship or bursary due to changing schools, Defence may pay their educational costs to the value of that scholarship.

Reunion travel

If your child is studying at a location distant from your posting, you may access funds towards the child's travel expenses to come to your location for a reunion. The child must already be receiving education assistance, and will be entitled to one return journey each calendar year.

To apply

For more information about this program, contact the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on1800 624 608, or consult your local REDLO.

DCO has a range of programs to support the availability of childcare services to Defence families, who might face difficulties in sourcing childcare in new posting locations.

We maintain a network of childcare centres around Australia. Children of newly-posted Defence families can receive priority of access to the centres, where the local community is unable to accommodate them.

We also provide financial assistance to community childcare organisations and Defence partners seeking to start a family day care business, to increase the availability of childcare to Defence families.

Finding childcare options

Find your nearest Defence childcare centre under the Defence childcare centres tab. Alternatively, you can search for different childcare options in your local area at or call the government-run Childcare Access Hotline on 1800 670 305.

Connecting with local community is an effective way for Defence families to source other childcare options. There are often playgroups, parents’ groups or other support networks you can tap into in your local area. We maintain information and resources to assist you to connect with local community resources, which you can readily access by calling the Defence Family Helpline.

This year, Defence is trialling a new individual case management service for childcare placement to support ADF families when they move to a new area or change their work or care arrangements, such as when a serving member returns from maternity leave.

Defence childcare service provider, Mission Australia, will use specialist Early Learning (MAEL) staff to support families who need help to find appropriate childcare. MAEL will negotiate with all local registered childcare providers, including family day care and before and after school care, to ensure childcare is tailored to individual family circumstances.

  • The service provides parents with detailed options that will allow them to decide which childcare service best suits their family.
  • It is available to all Defence families across Australia, and civilian families in some regional locations, such as Geraldton and Alice Springs.
  • The placement assistance service is free. However, please note that normal childcare fees will apply for any options selected by families.
  • To discuss your family’s needs, call the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 or email

Salary packaging

Defence employees can choose to salary package childcare - this means sacrificing part of their future salary or wages in return for childcare benefits to the same value. 

If you choose this option, you will no longer be eligible to receive the Child Care Benefit or the Child Care Tax Rebate. It is strongly recommended that you seek independent advice to determine whether salary packaging is financially advantageous for your family.

You can access more information including a list of centres that offer the salary packaging option to Defence families at by entering the employer code A100.


Defence has 21 early childhood education and care centres around Australia, made up of 17 long day care and four out of school hours centres.

The Defence childcare centres are operated by Mission Australia Early Learning . Families with queries regarding the daily functions of the centres including enrolments can contact Mission Australia’s information hotline on 1800 757 343 during regular business hours.

Priority of access

Defence facilitates priority of access to these childcare centres for mobile Defence families, where the local community cannot accommodate them and they have been posted to the new location within the last six months.

Priority is given over non‑Defence families in recognition of the difficulties you may face in relocation. Centres create waiting lists and award priority of access, by employing a points system as per Defence Priority of Access Guidelines.

The childcare service provider

Defence contracts a licensed childcare service provider to manage and operate the Defence childcare centres.

The contract periodically undergoes a competitive tender process under Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines to determine the preferred service provider for the centres. 

In July 2012, Mission Australia Early Learning Services succeeded B4Kids as the contractor providing childcare to the centres.

Defence Childcare Centres


Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

Centre Address Building
Russell Hill Early Childhood Centre

R8 Annex, Kelliher Drive Russell Offices




New South Wales (NSW)

Centre Address Building
Kangaroo Cottage Child Care Centre

HMAS Creswell 19 Benson Road
Jervis Bay

Little Diggers Child Care Centre

Holsworthy Barracks MacArthur Drive

Little Eagles Child Care Centre

Canberra Ave RAAF Base

The Blue House Outside School Hours Care

RAAF Base Richmond Wood Street

Tingira Child Care Centre

HMAS Albatross Bedford Ave

Kids Crew Room Outside School Hours Care

HMAS Albatross Bedford Ave

Williamtown Child Care Centre

RAAF Base Williamtown, McNamara Drive




Victoria (VIC)

Centre Address Building
Cerberus Child Care Centre

HMAS Cerberus 12-14 Cook Road
Crib Point

East Sale Child Care Centre

RAAF Base Heart Ave 
East Sale

Williams Child Care Centre

RAAF Base Williams 17 Campbell Parade


Puckapunyal Child Care Centre
Includes OSHC

Lone Pine Cres
Puckapunyal Military Area

Victoria Barracks Child Care Centre

32 Coventry Rd 
Southbank Melbourne



Western Australia (WA)

Centre Address Building
The Sunny Child Care Centre

50 Seaward Ave

Flying Start Child Care Centre

RAAF Base Pearce Brownwell Ave



Queesnland (QLD)

Centre Address Building
Enoggera Child Care Centre

2 Taurama St

Coral Sea Child Care Centre

71 Bamford Lane, Kirwan




Norther Territory (NT)

Centre Address Building
Kids Brigade Child Care Centre

Cnr University Ave & Woodlake Blvd
Durack, Palmerston NT

Little Geckos Child Care Centre

RAAF Base, Easton Parade

Big Geckos Outside School Hours Care

RAAF Base, Easton Parade
Tindal NT


More information

For more information about the Defence childcare centres, contact Defence Childcare Programs by emailing or the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.

Any enquiries about daily operations of the centres, including enrolments, should be directed to Mission Australia on  1800 757 343 (9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday).

Any complaints from parents should first be directed to the Centre Director, who will respond as appropriate. Mission Australia or DCO will take further action if necessary. The parent complaint and grievance policy is available at each centre.


Organisations or groups that provide childcare services to Defence families may be eligible for financial assistance under the Extended Child Care Program. As a general principle the funding is offered to the organisation to expand the number of places that can be provided, in order to increase access for Defence families.

The funding is available to groups or organisations which provide work-related childcare services, in particular before and after school care, family day care, vacation care, occasional care or 24‑hour/irregular hours care. Groups must be incorporated to receive this assistance and to employ childcare workers that meet the necessary state and territory regulations.

How to apply

To apply, complete the application form, attaching relevant documentation including incorporation, constitution and insurance policies.

Applications are accepted throughout the year for consideration.

For more information about this program, contact the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on or 1800 624 608.

You can also find the details and eligibility criteria in the guidelines.

Family day care set-up

Funding is available to assist with some of the initial set‑up costs incurred by Defence partners starting up a family day care business, in areas of high Defence need.

As a family day carer, you can work from home providing small group childminding services—this may be particularly convenient if you have children of your own at home. Family day care is a very portable career and can get you involved in your new community after posting.

Set‑up costs that may be reimbursed include First Aid certification, public liability insurance, police checks, car safety certification, and Family Day Care Australia registration fees (this supplies you with the support of a specialist coordination and resource team).

This assistance does incur Fringe Benefits Tax . We strongly recommend you seek independent financial advice before committing to the program, as it may affect government benefits or child support payments you currently receive.

How to apply

To apply, complete the application form for reimbursement of initial set-up costs, attaching all relevant receipts, and forward it to

For more information about this program, email or call the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.

You can also read the details in the guidelines.