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Defence Community Organisation

For ADF members and their families

1800 624 608

Products, programs & resources for kids

A range of programs and resources are available to help children to develop strategies to cope with the challenges of Defence life such as deployment, absence and relocation, and use them to learn and grow.

Specialised in-school and advisory staff support Defence students as part of our education support package for mobile families.

Contact the all-hours Defence Family Helpline at DefenceFamilyHelpline@defence.gov.au or 1800 624 608 to order these resources or to contact our specialised education support staff.

For kids

TeenSMART

TeenSMART workshops are for Defence teenagers to help them manage issues arising from deployment and relocation.

During the workshops, Defence teenagers can meet and share their stories about being part of a military family. They can also learn some ideas and tactics to help them stay connected to their parents while they are away on deployment, and meet new friends when they move to a new posting location.

The workshop will also cover other things, like managing change and coping when feeling stressed out. There will be some tips and hints for handling emotions, and some great relaxation techniques, too.

Contact the Defence Family Helpline at DefenceFamilyHelpline@defence.gov.au or  1800 624 608 for more information or to sign up for a program.

KidSMART

KidSMART are a set of four-week programs for primary aged kids to help them manage issues arising from posting, relocation and deployment. The KidSMART mascots, Tyler Turtle and Sam Super, will help kids learn how to manage change, stay connected with friends and meet new people.

The workshops will also cover other things, like helping children to cope when feeling stressed or anxious, particularly during times of parental absence and deployment. Kids can learn some techniques for handing emotions and relaxation, too.

Sessions are once a week for 1 to 1.5 hours per session and all children receive a story book to take home.

Contact the Defence Family Helpline at DefenceFamilyHelpline@defence.gov.au or 1800 624 608 for more information or to sign up for a program.

Toys

DCO produces teddy bears in the uniforms of the three Services. The bears are given to the young children of ADF members who have deployed. Bears can be ordered from the Defence Family Helpline at DefenceFamilyHelpline@defence.gov.au or are available in DCO Area Offices.

Books

We have a range of children’s books, including the Sapper Pat, Pepper Penguin and Tyler Turtle series, which are designed to help young children understand more about the military lifestyle and develop coping strategies for parental absence.

Children can follow the adventures of teddy bear Sapper Pat in his overseas Army postings, and cuddly penguin Able Seaman Pepper Penguin as he travels the world on Navy ships. The books give young children an easy-to-understand picture of life in the military, and what their parent might be experiencing while they are away from the family on deployments or postings. Pat and Pepper also show children ways to stay in touch, and positive ways to manage time apart and reunions. 

The Tyler Turtle picture book and workbooks are designed for younger children, and follow the colourful Tyler as he learns simple strategies to help him cope with his mother’s absence and return and with relocating to a new reef.

ADF Cadets and Defence Scouts

The ADF Cadets is a community-based youth development organisation, which runs leadership, team-building and survival skills programs. Cadets have Navy, Army, Air Force and tri-Service units, and can be a great opportunity for young people to meet others from Defence families. There are hundreds of units across Australia, so belonging to Cadets can also give youths familiar routine and a continuity of experience in new locations.

Visit www.cadetnet.gov.au for more information.

Scouts Australia provides young Australians aged 6 to 25 with fun and challenging opportunities to grow through adventure. Scouts Australia provides special support to Defence students in new posting locations to help them engage with and settle into their new community.

Visit www.scouts.com.au for more information.

Parents & families

Resources are available for parents with information and advice for guiding children through deployments and relocations, from very young children to teenagers.

Online deployment support videos

There are two informative online videos available about deployments, which we encourage you to watch with your children. 

Going Solo- Dealing with Absence in Defence Families outlines strategies and ideas for helping younger children and families cope with a parent’s absence during training or deployment. Built on experiences shared by other Defence families, the video provides useful tips to handle all stages of deployment, from preparing for the member’s absence to reuniting as a family upon the member’s return.

Don’t Forget it’s Bin Night - Stepping up when Mum or Dad is away examines the impact of deployment on families with teenagers, and presents mechanisms for older children to both cope with the parent’s absence and see the possibilities for personal development it affords.

Related:  Before deployment

Parental absence and relocations

The Deployment Support booklet contains sections for families with children.

Related: deployment

Community activities

There are often local events held for Defence families, such as regional welcome days, craft sessions, picnics or seasonal activities like Easter egg hunts. These events are an opportunity for Defence children to meet kids in the same situation as themselves, have a lot of fun and feel part of and proud of the Defence community.

In addition, there are a vast range of parent or hobby groups, information sessions and events which may benefit Defence parents.

Related: Your community