Reuniting families can experience both positive and negative emotions associated with homecoming.

Contact the Defence Member and Family Helpline to support and advice.

Managing expectations

Actual family reunions may not match the imagined excitement.

The whole family has grown and changed during the ADF member's absence, and returning home is just as significant a change as departing. It will take time to readjust to being together again.

Relief out of country visits

ADF members may have the opportunity to return home for a brief leave period during a deployment, called a relief out of country leave (ROCL).

It is important to have realistic expectations about ROCL - not only may it be cancelled unexpectedly, it can also be bittersweet knowing the leave is short.

ROCL is an important opportunity for members to rest and re-establish relationships with family. It is best to plan activities in advance and try not to over commit.

Member behaviour

The returning ADF member's sense of self has been shaped by the experiences of their deployment, including:

  • sometime traumatic events
  • aggressive attitudes in hostile settings
  • strong military unit bonds
  • highly regimented environment
  • stress and fatigue.

After the returning home 'honeymoon period' a member can feel disconnected and even let down with regular domestic life. Their family may feel like the returning member is a stranger.

Re-establishing relationships

Enjoy time together and try not to focus on all that has changed during an absence.

Spend time discovering all the positive changes in one another and celebrate the accomplishments of each family member.