Each year Defence Community Organisation (DCO) awards funding to non-profit groups that help Defence families build support networks and become involved in their local community.
DCO’s Director General Ray Bromwich said that funding for 2013–14 totalled $1.4 million and was shared among 61 groups across the country.
‘The grants support organisations that help Defence families manage military life and connect with their community through hobby and interest groups and development activities for kids and teens’, he explained.
‘Defence families posted to far-flung places like Papua New Guinea and Karratha in the Pilbara region of Western Australia can access organisations supported by our grants scheme.’
Duntroon Community Centre in Canberra has been supporting military families for more than 30 years, and uses its grant to deliver programs including playschool, playgroup, and a craft group.
Centre coordinator Jenny Lean said that the funding allows the centre to improve and grow each year, helping family members from both the military and civilian community to network and offer valuable support to each other.
‘It supports Defence families regardless of rank, particularly when partners are away’, she said.
Network Tindal in the Northern Territory also received funding in the 2013–14 round. Coordinator Renee Fox said the funding would be used for a range of community programs and social events including playgroups, craft and computer gaming groups, social cooking classes and a monthly newsletter.
‘We also run swimming lessons for six weeks, twice a year for between 70 and 100 children’, she said.
Late last year the group organised the inaugural Twilight Community Fair in Katherine, bringing together more than 550 people from the local community.
‘The fair was a great success and is one event that helps build relationships between the RAAF community and the Katherine community’, Ms Fox said.
DCO delivers other services to military families including support from a social worker, assistance for partners’ education and employment, help with childcare, assistance for dependants with special needs, help for families during crisis and emergency, education support for children, and assistance for members leaving the military.
Families can access support services by calling the all-hours Defence Family Helpline—1800 624 608—which is staffed by qualified human services professionals including social workers and psychologists.