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Defence Community Organisation

For ADF members and their families

1800 624 608

DCO webinars

DCO webinar

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 defencefamilyhelpline@defence.gov.au.

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.

Recorded webinars

MWD(U) – Communication, the key to living apart together, presented 24 September 2020

Overview: Discusses the importance of communication while living apart and explores the additional challenges families might be facing during COVID-19, including a range of tips for effective communications and self-care strategies.

Available until: 24 December 2020

Preparing for posting – Moving with a plan, presented 8 October 2020

Overview: Practical tips and strategies on how to navigate challenging or unexpected times during posting, including a segment from the Posting Cycle Movement Control Cell (PCMCC) and information about the support available along the way.

Available until: 8 January 2021

MWD(U) – Making a home in two locations, presented 15 October 2020

Overview: Practical tips and strategies on how to navigate challenging or unexpected times during posting, including ideas on ways to build your connection as a family from afar.

Available until: 15 January 2021

Deployment—Preparing for the return and beyond, presented 22 October 2020

Overview: Tips and strategies for the family to support reintegration of the family unit following deployment.

Available until: 22 January 2021

Posting during COVID-19—Managing quarantine, presented 12 November 2020

Overview: Tips and strategies for families who may be managing any required quarantine during postings.

Available until: 12 February 2021

DCO Webinar series Q&A

Questions from webinars up to and including 'Posting with a plan' on 8 October 2020. Responses correct at 26 October 2020
Q: With the current circumstances, why aren't Toll and DHA communicating with members earlier than usual?

A: Toll and DHA are communicating with members, particularly upon receipt of your AFR. Given the large volume of AFRs submitted recently Toll expect to assign a case manager to support you with your relocation within 4 weeks, however, with earlier posting dates being prioritised. As such, time frames may be longer or shorter depending on your travel dates. If you need to contact Toll about your relocation or have questions to please call 1800 819 167 or email ttcsc@tollgroup.com.

Q: Why is there a 6-7 month posting window? Why OCT-APR? Why can’t we post at normal time?

A: The relocation window was extended to 01 Oct 20–28 Feb 21. We have extended the 2020-21 peak posting period due to a number of factors, the main being interstate postings. Despite this, we are now required to reduce the planned number of removals requested to occur in January 2021. This is being done in consultation with Service Career Management agencies.

Q: Would you happen to know when DHA will be updating their online services portal to show housing availability in the gaining location?

A: DHA's Home Find application is currently live. Housing availability is subject to other Defence members confirming when their house will be vacated and available for future occupation. If you are not seeing any housing options please contact DHA on 139 342 to discuss further.

Q: Can we access the DHA portal prior to getting a Toll case manager?

A: Yes, you can access the DHA website www.dha.gov.au at any time.

Q: I cannot submit my AFR because my posting hasn't been promulgated yet.

A: You will need to engage via your Chain of Command to seek advice from your service Career Management Agency or career advisor to confirm the expected release date of your posting order.

Q: I've purchased a house in the gaining locality and set a sensible settlement date so we can move into the house within a month of settlement for Home Purchase Assistance Scheme (HPAS). What happens if the PCMCC give me a movement date that is outside the one month of settlement? Are there going to be allowances for this considering the rules and regs around HPAS in PACMAN?

A: Your Toll case manager will book the required temporary accommodation in the gaining location while you are waiting for the arrival of your furniture and effects, or your housing solution to become available.

Q: Transport of pets is authorised for reimbursement, what about housing of pets for own-means travel? Is that also reimbursed?

A: There are no changes to the process of relocating pets. It is the responsibility of the member to arrange the relocation of household pets if you are directed to fly. In accordance with PACMAN Chapter 6 Part 1 Division 3, Defence may reimburse the reasonable costs associated with the commercial transportation and boarding of one or more household pets.

Q: What is the process for the member to put in special circumstances? I have put mine through my Chain of Command (to which we have heard nothing back) and Toll won’t speak with me until a case manager has been assigned (have been advised 4-5 weeks turnaround after submitting AFR).

A: Where you believe you have exceptional circumstances you should advise Toll of these ASAP. This may be done pre or post AFR submission, but should include Unit Chain of Command endorsement and where required supporting evidence. Toll will forward any exceptional circumstances requests to the PCMCC for determination ASAP. Defence personnel can access further guidance on the request process via the PCMCC website on the DPN.

Q: My husband is the serving member and he is in Townsville and the rest of the family are located in Wodonga. Will he be able to come and assist us with the move?

A: Yes, your spouse will be responsible for ensuring he has all relevant border pass as per state/territory guidelines. Each state/territory is different and members are to confirm and comply with these requirements.

Q: Would it be up to us to organise border passes or is that something that Toll would organise as part of our move?

A: You are individually responsible for ensuring that you and all family members apply for a border pass as per state/territory guidelines. Each state/territory is different and members are to confirm and comply with these requirements.

Q: Sorry for a repeat but to be more specific: if you are moving between locations where there is a delay between you flying and your effects arriving, and as per state requirements you are either not required to quarantine OR are able to quarantine at your own residence, can you get your service residence rental agreement early to use for your entry pass application and choose to stay at the service residence with your own provided temporary or new furniture?

A: Dependant on the gaining state or territories regulations, if you can take possession of a suitable service residence and arrange for your furniture and effects delivered prior to arrival and you can be self-sufficient for the two week period you are required to quarantine, you may apply for exemption via the gaining State health direction.

Q: With the issue of flights being cancelled at short notice and limited flights between states, is the intent to place people on the most immediate available flight from their departure date?

A: In the event of flight cancellation, contact your Toll case manager who will arrange an alternative flight/accommodation extensions if applicable.

Q: Are there any provisions for when you arrive at your new destination weeks before your effects? And are without your belongings, bed etc. for a couple of weeks?

A: Your Toll case manager will book the required temporary accommodation in the gaining location while you are waiting for the arrival of your furniture and effects or your housing solution to become available.

Q: If we have a DHA house reserved but are still to hear from our Toll case manager, should we proceed with going further organising the house so that we have an address to organise schools for children or do we need to wait to hear from the Toll case manager?

A: Due to the current COVID circumstances DHA are approaching housing allocations and house reservations with a flexible and pragmatic attitude. Each personal circumstance will be different and you should discuss these with DHA. In some circumstances 'reserved' service residence may not eventuate due to the dynamic nature of postings and last minute changes to housing availability.

Q: Do you have any advice for people dealing with PTSD or depression who are having to isolate?

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 defencefamilyhelpline@defence.gov.au.

Q: Can we post items to people in hotel isolation?

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.

Q: Can Defence School Mentors help during COVID-19?

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 defencefamilyhelpline@defence.gov.au to be put in contact.

Q: How can I help support my child in Year 12 to manage their education requirements with all the COVID-19 changes?

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.

Q: My child’s tutoring approval will run out soon, but tutoring has been interrupted by COVID-19 restrictions. Will the approval timeframes be extended?

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 education.supportprograms@defence.gov.au. For more information about the Education Assistance Scheme, visit the ‘Financial assistance’ section on the Kids' education page.

Q: Defence School Mentors are wonderful, but unfortunately they aren’t in every school. Might DCO consider arranging sessions where kids can come together and debrief/process their COVID-19 experiences with other Defence kids? This would be especially useful in larger cities where many Defence kids are spread out and at schools without a mentor.

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.

Q: Tips when you’re no longer working, but your partner is, and you are feeling unequal in relationship?

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.

Q: Tips for families who are separated in different countries due to COVID. How can we manage the grief of seeing the member at the overseas posting doing the things that you back in Australia want to be doing, but are not allowed to yet?

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.

Q: It’s difficult when they (ADF member) can’t talk about what they’re doing on their overseas deployment and you’re doing very little at home, how do we get around this?

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.

Q: Relationship separation and access to a Commonwealth Funded removal

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.

Q: We’re really struggling with the absence of ROCL - do you know if the member will be given additional time at the end of deployment to spend with family when they return to Australia?

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.