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 Coronavirus (COVID-19), DCO is providing information, support and links to resources to assist ADF members and their families.
COVID-19 is a global health issue and can evoke a range of feelings in the community, such as fear or panic. It is important to draw on your resilience, which is a defining feature of the Defence community, and to take a calm and measured approach by following the health direction from your GP or general advice from the Australian Department of Health – www.health.gov.au.
If you would like to discuss any of the above, have questions, or just want someone to talk to, DCO is available 24/7. The Helpline is staffed by qualified human services professionals, including social workers and psychologists, who can provide you with assessment, assistance or referral, anytime day or night.
The unfolding spread of COVID-19, home isolation, and/or quarantine periods can be a stressful experience and leave you concerned. Your family doctor can refer you to the most appropriate support services in your area, including mental health services www.healthdirect.gov.au/australian-health-services.
There are a number of additional resources and support services available:
National COVID-19 hotline: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-national-health-plan-primary-care-central-patient-covid-19-triage-hotline -
The Department of Health have established a 24/7 hotline to assist the Community with COVID related information, call 1800 020 080.
Australian Government: www.australia.gov.au - Coronavirus Australia and the COVIDSafe free apps are available from the Apple App Store or Google Play
Services Australia (formerly the Department of Human Services) - for Centrelink, Medicare, and Child Support information as well as information for job seekers, carers, people with disabilities visit: http://servicesaustralia.gov.au
Healthdirect hotline (1800 022 022) - provides access to a registered nurse if you have any health concerns www.healthdirect.gov.au/.
The Australian Department of Defence – Defence response to COVID-19 https://www.defence.gov.au/covid-19/.
1800 IM SICK (1800 467 425) - 24-hour health advisory service for ADF members.
1800 DEFENCE (1800 333 362) - for further information about ADF and APS entitlements.
Coronavirus Health Information Line (1800 020 080) - provides accurate information on the COVID-19.
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 parent or guardian may also visit an ADF member under 18 who requires medical treatment (the member doesn't have to be seriously ill in this case).
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, and then it is DCO's role to organise the necessary travel arrangements.
The 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 of their choice to accompany them.
Approval for any one visit can be up to seven consecutive days, and normally 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.
In addition to organising transport and accommodation for the visiting person, DCO can assist with other practical concerns, like administration or liaising with units and medical personnel.
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).
Family and domestic violence
DCO can provide temporary 'safe house' accommodation for the dependants of ADF members in situations of family and 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:
1800 RESPECT is the national Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service for anyone living in Australia. The service provides a professional telephone and online crisis and trauma counselling service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
1800 737 732
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
Mensline Australia is a national 24-hour service for men, providing support, information or referral by telephone or online.
1300 789 978
The ADF Mental Health All Hours Support Line provides mental health and wellbeing advice for ADF members and their families.
1800 628 036
1800ELDERHelp is a national free call elder abuse hotline that automatically redirects callers seeking information or advice about elder abuse to their state or territory phone line service.
1800 353 374
COMPASS is a national knowledge hub and online resource that provides information on the issue of elder abuse.
There are also a number of factsheets available in the resources tab.
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:
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 of 12 months). 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 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.
All emergency financial assistance will 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.