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Defence Community Organisation

For ADF members and their families

1800 624 608

Health & Wellbeing

DCO has a range of services and resources to support your mental health and wellbeing, by helping you prepare for challenging times, create effective support networks, and become more resilient, positive and self-reliant.

We can also assist you to find help when things get too much or you need guidance and referral. Our mental and social health is just as important to our overall wellbeing as our physical health.

Be prepared for what may be challenging times

Defence families face a unique set of challenges including deployment, family member absence and relocation. Timely preparation and knowing what to expect can make these times more manageable and positive for all concerned.

We offer resources and support to help you prepare practically and emotionally.

Related: Moving & relocation |  Deployment and time apart

Become more positive, self-reliant and positive 

Local DCO offices run stress management and resilience-building group programs designed for Defence families. There are three types on offer: FamilySMART for partners, KidSMART for primary aged kids and TeenSMART for teenagers.

The programs help you to identify and build on your strengths, learn techniques to cope with the stressors and challenges of the military lifestyle like deployment and relocation, and become more resilient, positive and self-confident.

To sign up or find out more about the SMART series, contact the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608

Related: Partners | Programs and products for kids

Create support networks

An important part of being resilient is building a strong support system for yourself. A good support network will make you feel accepted, cared for and valued, as well as give you practical assistance when you need it to handle a difficult situation. 

Defence families are strongest when connected with their community, and we have a range of services to help you source and access community resources that best suit your needs, especially when you are new to a posting location.

Contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 to access our community directory or to obtain personalised advice.

Find help or information

When you are facing difficulties, or you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed or fearful, it is important to be able to reach out for help. The Defence Family Helpline and a range of other specialised mental health helplines operate 24-7 to connect you with the help you need. 

Through Defence and local DCO teams, you can also access a range of specialised support staff who can provide you with mental health services, support, advice or referrals.

You can find a wealth of mental health information on the Defence Joint Health website. There are factsheets, tips and information about a range of mental health and wellbeing topics and common issues facing Defence families.

Some of these topics include depression, deployment and reunion, suicide prevention, domestic violence, grief and response to trauma, anger, anxiety, and alcohol and drug dependencies.

Getting help

When you are facing difficulties, it is important to be able to reach out for help.

Find someone to talk to

You may wish to discuss things with a close friend or family member who you trust to be supportive. Sometimes it can really help to share a problem and get a different perspective on it by talking it over. 

Connecting with your community, especially when you are new to a location, can also help you find people who are in a similar situation or have been so in the past, and who can share their experiences, strategies and support with you.

24-hour helplines

A range of national mental health helplines are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. None of these helplines should be used as a substitute for Triple-Zero (000) emergency services.

The Defence Family Helpline is provided by the Defence Community Organisation. The Helpline is staffed by qualified human services professionals including social workers and psychologists, who can provide you with assessment, assistance or referral.

You can contact the Helpline 24-7 at  DefenceFamilyHelpline@defence.gov.au or 1800 624 608.

  • The All Hours Support Line is provided by Defence as part of the ADF Mental Health Strategy, and is a 24-7 service for ADF members and their families to access mental health advice and referral. 
    1800 628 036 
    +61 2 9425 3878 outside Australia

  • Lifeline is a national 24-hour support line which provides crisis support, suicide prevention and mental health services for the cost of a local call from landlines or free from mobiles.
    131 114
    lifeline.org.au

  • Kids Help Line is a free, and anonymous 24-hour telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people 5-25 years old.
    1800 551 800
    kidshelp.com.au

  • Mensline Australia is a national 24-hour service for men, providing support, information or referral by telephone or online.
    1300 789 978
    mensline.org.au

  • The Veterans and Veterans’ Families Counselling Service provides counselling and support programs to Australian veterans or peacekeepers and their families, and operates a freecall all-hours crisis telephone service called Vetline.
    1800 011 046
    www.vvcs.gov.au

  • beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia. Their website provides a wealth of information and resources for anyone experiencing depression or who knows someone else who is. 
    beyondblue.org.au
    1300 22 4636 

  • At Ease 
    The Department of Veterans' Affairs At Ease website can help veterans, current Defence members, and their families during challenging times by providing tips, treatment options, and resources for identifying, managing or treating symptoms of not coping.
    at-ease.dva.gov.au

  • 1800Respect - National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service for people living in Australia. Operates 24/7 
    www.1800respect.org.au
    Information and support 24/7 - Call 1800 737 732

Support

Defence support staff can provide mental health services, support, advice or referrals to ADF members and their families.

Through local DCO teams, Defence families can access a range of specialised staff, including social workers and officers who can advise you about local area information, military matters or children’s education issues. You can gain referral to your local team by calling the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.

Social work and counselling

Defence Social Workers can help you address personal, relationship or Service related issues. They can provide you with assessment, short-term support and referral to support and resources in your local community.

You can make an appointment with your local DCO social worker by calling the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.

ADF members will require clearance from their supervisor to attend for a DCO appointment during normal working hours, unless they are already on some form of leave or approved absence.

Social work services are provided in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988.

Related: Defence privacy policy - Overview

Advisory services

Other support staff located in DCO Area Offices can draw on their rich regional knowledge to provide you with specialised local advice, information or referral. Regional Education Liaison Officers or REDLOs can advise you on education issues, Military Support Officers or MSOs on military matters, and Family Liaison Officers or FLOs on community resources, services or events.

To access your local REDLOs, MSOs or FLOs, call the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.

Related: Kid's education | About DCO

Unit support 

ADF Chaplains, or Padres, are ministers of religion who serve in the ADF. Their services are not limited to religious ministry, and they are available to provide support, pastoral care and moral or ethical guidance to ADF members and their families. You can receive the support of a chaplain without needing a referral or to go through the chain of command.

Units and ships support the families of ADF members through a designated welfare officer or team.

To obtain the contact details of your nearest Chaplains or welfare officer, contact the member’s unit directly or phone the National Welfare Coordination Centre on 1800 801 026.

Support for ADF members

Your chain of command can provide advice and referral if necessary to the local Medical Centre or Mental Health and Psychology Section (MHPS).

You can also approach your local MHPS or Medical Centre directly and speak with a Nursing Officer or Medical Officer, who can provide you with assistance.