DCO provides a range of practical and emotional support programs for families facing emergency or crisis, including assistance in times of illness, injury, domestic crisis or bereavement.
Families can also seek support or referrals any time from the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.
If you need support or advice at any time, day or night, you can contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608. The Helpline operates 24-7 and is staffed by qualified human services professionals, including social workers and psychologists, who can provide you with assessment, assistance or referral.
As part of Defence’s response to the 2019–20 Australian bushfire emergency, Defence Community Organisation is providing information, support and links to resources to help affected members of the ADF community.
ADF members, including reservists called out for Operation Bushfire Assist under SERVOP C arrangements, their families and commanders can contact the DCO Defence Family Helpline at any time to receive information, referral and support.
Depending on what your needs are, DCO is able to provide crisis support such as child minding or emergency accommodation, as well as immediate emotional support.
We can provide emotional and practical support in the form of brief intervention, counselling or referral to appropriate community services and longer term supports. DCO also provides absence from home support, crisis and critical incident support, and a range of other assistance. DCO can also provide information about current government and non-government supports, grants and resources available to those in communities impacted by the bushfires.
All Reserve members called out for Operation Bushfire Assist under SERVOP C (continuous full-time service) arrangements for Operation Bushfire Assist 2019–20, will be supported by our ADF Transition teams as they go back to civilian life at the end of their contract. These Reservists can access a number of support services offered under the Defence Force Transition Program. For details, talk to an ADF Transition Coach at your demounting camp, contact your local ADF Transition Centre or see the ADF Member and Family Transition Guide.
Call the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 for any queries about bushfire assistance or the support available. For detailed information on DCO bushfire assistance and coping with bushfires, see our handouts.
For information about assistance from the Australian Government, such as allowances and recovery payments, visit the Department of Human Services website.
For information about assistance from state government such as disaster relief grants visit:
For information about donating to organisations that support people and animals affected by bushfires visit Registered Bushfire Charities.
Illness or injury
If an ADF member is hospitalised for serious or life-threatening illness or injury while away from home for Service reasons, an approved visitor, such as a family member, can access financial assistance to visit and support them. This is called the Australians Dangerously Ill Scheme (AUSDIL).
AUSDIL assistance is provided when the member has been hospitalised with a serious or life-threatening injury or illness, including certain mental health conditions.
A medical professional must have advised that the nominated person's support would benefit the member's wellbeing or recovery. The medical professional and the member’s commanding officer will initiate the request. Once a request has been received and approved then DCO can action the necessary travel arrangements.
An approved visitor will have their travel costs covered, including transport, accommodation, meals and travel insurance for visits overseas.
When the nominated person cannot travel without a carer or appropriate support (for example, if the person has a medical condition or is elderly), we may cover the costs for a support person to accompany them.
Approval for any one visit can be approved for up to seven consecutive days, and only one visitor per member may be approved for any one illness or injury. In exceptional circumstances, additional people may be granted approval to accompany the approved visitor.
We can also provide emotional and practical support to the family in the form of brief intervention counselling, advice on the care and rehabilitation of the ADF member, or referral to appropriate community services and longer term supports.
Call the all-hours Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608 for any queries about AUSDIL or the support available.
More details about AUSDIL are outlined in the Defence Casualty Manual (CASMAN).
DCO can provide temporary 'safe house' accommodation for the dependants of ADF members in situations of domestic violence, where the family members cannot remain in the home and have no available alternatives for accommodation. You should consider other appropriate accommodation first, such as staying with friends or family or on base. SAFE is also available for an ADF member when appropriate.
You can initiate a request for SAFE by contacting the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608. The Helpline is available 24 hours a day, and staff can provide you with support and assistance or referrals to other services as required.
Domestic or family violence can take many forms and can be damaging psychologically and emotionally as well as physically for the abused person. If you find yourself in an abusive situation, seek help.
For emergency situations that require immediate attention, call Triple Zero emergency services. There are also several 24-hour telephone support services you can call for assistance:
Lifeline is a national 24-hour support line which provides crisis support and mental health services for the cost of a local call from landlines or free from mobiles.
Kids Helpline is a free, and anonymous 24-hour telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people 5-25 years old.
1800 551 800
Kids Helpline website
Mensline Australia is a national 24-hour service for men, providing support, information or referral by telephone or online.
1300 789 978
Mensline Australia website
The ADF Mental Health All Hours Support Line provides mental health and wellbeing advice for ADF members and their families.
1800 628 036
Family and domestic violence are complex issues and tackling them requires coordinated, comprehensive and long-term initiatives. The Defence Family and Domestic Violence Strategy vision is for a Defence community that is safe and free from violence, and committed and ready to respond effectively to support those affected by violence whether they are people subjected to violence, people using violence or bystanders.
The objectives of the strategy are to:
There are also a number of factsheets available in the resources tab.
Where there is a crisis, illness, injury or death in the family, the ADF member may receive special provisions and support from Defence. This is termed compassionate consideration, and may include granting the ADF member compassionate leave, travel costs, special return to Australia or their unit, or cancellation or alteration of a posting order.
ADF members may be eligible for compassionate consideration when experiencing the death or life-threatening illness or injury of a close relative, urgent personal circumstances, or serious problems in domestic or financial affairs at home when their presence would improve the situation.
When these issues arise, the first thing the ADF member should do is discuss their circumstances with their supervisor or immediate superior. They will be able to provide guidance or advice about support available and can start the process to grant compassionate support.
In the case of serious or very serious illness or injury of the ADF member, there is support available through AUSDIL.
DCO provides advice, assessments and reports for Command to help with their decision-making in regards to compassionate consideration or the welfare of Defence families. The purpose of a DCO report is to provide Command with accurate information and professional advice to assist them to make informed decisions that are, where possible, in the best interests for all parties.
When Command requests an assessment, a Defence Social Worker or Defence Family Helpline worker will talk with the member and their family, gather any supporting documentation required and compile a report. The report will give the supervising or Commanding Officer a picture of your family’s situation and recommendations for support to be provided. The assessment and reporting process is conducted in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988.
Support given for an emergency situation can include compassionate leave allowances, assistance for travel within Australia, and special returns to Australia (where the member is posted or deployed overseas) or the member's unit (where the member is on training or exercise).
For compassionate issues where the ADF member believes that their current posting is contributing to extraordinary personal/family hardship, which is beyond their control, then Command may initiate the request to cancel or alter the member’s posting order (usually for a specified period).
In all Services this is referred to as a Compassionate Posting. The purpose of a Compassionate Posting is to enable Defence members to resolve their short-term (usually less than 12 months) personal and/or familial concerns. ADF members must apply directly through their Divisional Chain for consideration of a Compassionate Posting.
DCO provides short-term financial assistance to an ADF member's dependants in an emergency situation.
This support is given when the member is absent from home for Service reasons or unable to care for their dependants for a medical reason.
To qualify for assistance, the emergency event must be unforeseen, sudden and be beyond the immediate coping mechanisms of your family.
A Defence Social Worker or Defence Family Helpline worker will assess the extent of the emergency and your family’s needs, and develop a support plan in partnership with the member’s unit.
Depending on the DCO worker's recommendations, you may receive assistance for dependant care, housekeeping, child minding, respite care or travel for immediate family to provide support for the ADF member’s dependants.
The DCO social worker will also develop a longer term strategy to ensure the wellbeing of your family for the remainder of the member’s absence.
The ADF member, their dependants or the member’s Commanding Officer can apply for emergency support for the family by contacting the Defence Family Helpline at DefenceFamilyHelpline@defence.gov.au or on 1800 624 608.
Emergency financial assistance may attract Fringe Benefits Tax for the ADF member. As these amounts can be significant and may affect other payments or benefits received, we recommend you seek independent financial advice before applying for assistance.