Although deployment and time apart can be challenging for families, timely preparation can help to make the experience more manageable and positive for all concerned.
Be informed. Find out about the member’s operation, and what effect the time apart may have on your family so you can prepare emotionally as well as practically.
Plan ahead. There are practical things you can do to make sure the family is well cared for and things run smoothly in the member’s absence, including making a family support plan. The ADF member will also have to perform some vital administration before they go.
Involve the whole family. Getting the whole family involved in preparations, including children, will make sure everyone feels heard, informed and that they have an important part to play.
For support to be delivered appropriately to your family during deployment and in times of emergency or bereavement, there are some essential things for you to do before you go.
Make sure you have named your primary emergency contact person and next of kin in PMKeyS and that their details are accurate and up to date.
When you name a primary emergency contact you are telling Defence who you want to be contacted if you are injured, become sick, or die. Your next of kin is your closest living relative over the age of 18, usually a partner, child, parent or sibling. Your primary emergency contact and next of kin may be the same person.
If your partner and dependants are not formally recognised by Defence, they may not receive Defence entitlements and support, including housing, relocation, child care, employment assistance, or bereavement payments and compensation.
Each time you are deployed, you will be asked to complete form number AC989 on Web-forms and submit it to the National Welfare Coordination Centre (NWCC). This enables NWCC to access the details of your emergency contacts and to contact them in the case of emergencies during the deployment.
We strongly encourage you to have a current Will and power of attorney in place, and to send your Will to Headquarters DCO for storage.
If you don't make a Will, or update your existing Will, your estate may not be distributed according to your wishes. This means that should you die, your family may not be provided for appropriately.
Making a Will doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. You can seek free advice from a Defence Legal Officer, or pick up a Legal Will kit from a Post Office or newsagent.
We have a range of information and resources available to familiarise you with what you might expect before and during deployment in terms of the effect on you or your family. This information as well as our practical tips can help you to respond more positively and feel more in control.
The member’s unit will hold briefs for families before, during and often after the deployment. These will give you vital details about the length and nature of the deployment, ways of communicating with the deployed member and important contacts within the unit.
Make sure you take careful note of all the contact details of the unit support staff and the phone number, postal address and email for the ADF member during the deployment.
You can also find out more about the deployment, exercise or operation on Defence’s Global Operations website.
It is very important to make plans for the care of the family during the member’s absence, to ensure that family life runs smoothly and the family has easy access to support and information when they need it.
Some questions to start you off in your planning:
The member and family care plan is a useful tool to bring together vital information about personal arrangements, records and emergency details for your family in one easy reference.
The plan also guides you through important considerations including financial arrangements, home preparation and maintenance, legal considerations, medical needs, emergency plans and other practical matters. The questions help you assess your current level of family readiness and identify issues you haven't thought about yet.
The Member and Family Care Plan is entirely for your own use, but you may choose to leave a copy with another family member or trusted friend in case of an emergency.
Download the member and family care plan
The ADF Financial Services Consumer Council has a budget calculator and a deployment checklist to help you with your financial planning.
We also have DVDs which may assist families with children in their preparation. The DVDs are Going Solo—Dealing with Absence in Defence Families for families with younger children, and Don’t Forget it’s Bin Night—Stepping up when Mum or Dad is away for families with teenagers. The DVDs can be ordered for free from the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.
Each stage of the deployment pre‑deployment, time apart and reunion, may be characterised by some fairly usual feelings and reactions. Experiencing a variety of strong emotions during this time is completely normal, and knowing what to expect can make the feelings much easier to manage.
In the lead up to deployment, you’ll likely go through a rollercoaster of emotions. Excitement, worry and sadness are common feelings to experience. Family members might feel they just want the ADF member to ‘go already’ and get the goodbye over with. You may notice yourselves withdrawing a bit from the departing member to make the farewell easier.
See our mental health and wellbeing page for proactive things you can do to manage your feelings and reactions, and to support yourself and your family during the ADF member's absence.
You can plan to incorporate these things into your routine before the ADF member leaves. You might sign up for our SMART programs to learn strategies to overcome negative emotions and make your responses more positive, set up a support network in your community or enrol in a yoga or relaxation class.
Try to involve everyone close to you, children, parents, relatives and close friends - in your preparations for deployment. This will make sure everyone feels heard, informed and that they have an important part to play.
Be prepared for relationships to change and shift during the time apart, as the deployed member and the family at home have their own separate experiences, responsibilities and personal growth. Working together and communicating openly about your feelings and expectations at this early stage will help to keep your relationships strong and make it easier to adapt to changes.
Don't Forget it's Bin Night DVD transcript: Microsoft Word | 60.5 kb