To support and stay connected with ADF families across Australia and around the world, we are holding a number of webinars. Our webinars focus on three topics: ‘From surviving to thriving during COVID-19’, 'Deployment – embracing the challenge' and ‘Returning from overseas’.
During these webinars families can access some great tips, strategies and resources to help them know more about a range of topics like maintaining healthy relationships, the DCO support available, children’s education during and after COVID-19, support for families with a loved one deployed, communication and healthy connections, returning to Australia from an overseas posting and how to stay physically, mentally and emotionally strong.
Some of the topics and questions discussed during our webinars are explored in the Q&A section below.
If you have questions about support available, or just want someone to talk to, our Defence Family Helpline will continue to operate 24/7. Call 1800 624 608 or email email@example.com.
If you would like to see the range of services available for ADF partners and families when members are deployed, visit our Deployment and time apart page.
Follow us on social media for up-to-date information and links to get tickets for upcoming webinars in the series. Free webinar tickets are available through Eventbrite with links available from the calendar on the DCO website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Forcenet.
A: Self-isolation, whilst crucial to help stop the spread of the virus, can also be challenging. It is completely normal for people to have a range of reactions and feelings in relation to self-isolation, such as worry, boredom, frustration, stress, or low mood; however, people with pre-existing anxiety and mental health conditions may experience heightened distress or may find the current conditions triggering.
Now is the time to prioritise self-care strategies into your daily routine, in order to look after yourself and to help you manage during this uncertain time. Firstly, try and focus on what you can control, such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercise and sleep regime. Another great strategy is to program enjoyable activities into your day – this is highly individual, but may include reconnecting with nature, watching a movie or reading a book. If you begin to feel overwhelmed then try some stress management techniques, such as deep breathing or grounding exercises (i.e. to look around the room and describe what you see or count backwards). Social connection is also important for our wellbeing and can help us effectively cope with challenges. But, it is acknowledged that isolation may increase feelings of depression or unhealthy avoidance behaviours, so try small incremental steps, like sending a text, making a phone call or using video technology to connect with family, friends and usual community groups.
If you are experiencing severe distress or are feeling overwhelmed then you should speak to your GP or mental health professional for specialised mental health support. There are also a number of other resources:
Another great tool to help manage your symptoms is the PTSD Coach Australia app or the Head to Health website.
If you would like to discuss any of the above, have questions, or just want someone to talk to, then DCO is here throughout it all 24/7 and you can contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A: Sending care packages are a great way to remind our loved ones that we are thinking of them from afar. It is generally okay to post items to people in hotel isolation, but will depend on state and territory restrictions. Arrangements may also differ from hotel to hotel. It is advisable to contact the hotel directly to determine any specific requirements and processes to send a care package to your loved one.
A: Defence School Mentors are a great resource for children of Defence families, especially during the recent changes surrounding schooling and COVID-19. If you would like to link in with your child’s Defence School Mentor, visit the Kids' Education page. If your child’s school doesn’t have a Defence School Mentor then you can still receive support from our knowledgeable Education Liaison Officers – contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 or email email@example.com to be put in contact.
A: Year 12 is a critical and often stressful school year for both students and their families, and this is without the added complexity that the coronavirus pandemic has introduced. It can be helpful to reassure your teenager that they are not alone and that everyone in their year is also trying to cope with the same challenges and that it is ok to feel overwhelmed. You could also point out that while they were learning online and are now transitioning back to classroom learning that they have displayed strength and perseverance, which are great attributes to have in both their academic and personal lives. If you have any specific concerns in relation to your child’s academic progress then you should contact your child’s teacher or school. Alternatively, you can also make contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 to get in touch with your local Education Liaison Officer who can provide advice on education issues and Defence student wellbeing.
A: Tutoring support time frames will be extended as students were unable to undertake face-to-face tutoring during COVID-19. Families currently approved to receive tutoring support for their child may, depending on their circumstances, choose from the following options:
Face-to-face tuition, including tutoring sessions provided via on-line video conferencing applications such as skype, zoom etc.
Face-to-face tutoring time limits can be extended. If a member’s 18 month period from the date their child commenced at the new school is due to expire within the next 3 months, a 6 month extension is available.
Families currently approved to receive face-to face tuition are able to switch to web-based tuition, however any amounts paid for face-to-face sessions already undertaken are subtracted from the maximum limits that may be reimbursed for web-based tutoring. You may be paid for the cost of a subscription to a web-based tutoring service but may not be paid for computer software or hardware costs or internet access costs.
To request an extension; for more information on web-based tutoring or to enquire about Education Assistance Scheme entitlements, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Education Assistance Scheme, visit the ‘Financial assistance’ section on the Kids' education page.
A: DCO is currently reviewing its support programs for children, with an independent study being conducted in the first half of 2020. Once the report and recommendations are delivered DCO will be in a position to assess how it can provide more support to children, including those students who are not in a school with a Defence School Mentor. As students return to schools across the country DCO’s Education Support Team will work with its Education Liaison Officers and the Defence School Mentor network on ways services and support can be delivered in line with COVID-19 restrictions across the different states and territories, also taking advantage of online platforms.
A: It may be helpful to let your partner know how you are feeling. Sitting down to respectfully discuss what equality in your relationship looks like to the both of you and then problem solving ways to achieve this, can help develop a more equal relationship. A simple but powerful way to allow each other to feel heard, understood and supported is to periodically practice Uninterrupted Listening – which is exactly what it sounds like, you both take turns to talk and listen without interruptions.
A: A good place to start to help to manage any feelings of loss is to find a way to express how you are feeling. You could talk to someone you trust, such as a friend or counsellor, or by writing your thoughts down in a journal. Another strategy is to focus on planning and researching things that you would like to do when you are reunited as a family once again – eventually travel bans will subside.
You can also contact the Defence Family Helpline 24/7 for individualised support and assistance on 1800 624 608.
A: It can be difficult to communicate when your partner is deployed. A few topics of conversation could be what activities you plan on doing when your loved one is home from deployments, focusing on a shared goal, showing appreciation for each other and your relationship or by talking about how each person’s day was in general. It could also be helpful to keep a notepad handy with you and throughout the day to jot down key points or things you might want to discuss.
The Absence Support Booklet has a number of tips on how to communication during deployment. The next webinar in the COVID-19 surviving and thriving series on 17 June 2020 at 8pm AEST focusses on communication.
A: If your relationship breaks down and your partner is an ADF member, you may be eligible to have a Commonwealth funded removal to a location within Australia of your choosing. You can usually access this removal anytime within 12 months of the date when the ADF member notifies Defence of the change of their circumstances. For further information contact the Defence Service Centre on 1800 333 362 or TOLL Transitions on 1800 819 167.
A: The decision to temporarily cease ‘relief out of country leave’ (or ROCL) provisions has understandably had an impact on Defence families. Defence is mindful of the additional challenges deployed members and their families are facing and will continue to monitor the situation, in line with the whole-of-Government response to COVID-19. For individual advice about additional leave arrangements for members post-deployment, you should speak with your Chain of Command. To discuss the challenges of extended absence you can also call the Defence Family Helpline at any time on 1800 624 608.