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Defence Member and Family Support

For ADF members and their families

1800 624 608

Products, programs & resources for kids

A range of programs and resources are available to help children and adolescents to develop strategies to cope with the challenges of Defence life, and to learn and grow from them, such as deployment, absence and relocation.

Specialist in-school and advisory staff support Defence students as part of our education support package for mobile families.

Contact the all-hours Defence Member and Family Helpline at memberandfamilyhelpline@defence.gov.au or 1800 624 608 to order these resources or to contact our specialist education support staff.

For kids

ADF Equip

Overview of the ADF Equip – children’s group resilience program

The ADF Equip Program comprises a suite of tailor-made sessions to support the resilience and wellbeing of children experiencing the effects of parental absence and frequent relocations.

The ADF Equip Program is developed by Defence Member and Family Support (DMFS) and informed by best practice wellbeing and resilience programs for children.

The Program includes facilitated sessions tailored to three age groups:

  • 5 – 8 year-olds
  • 9 – 12 year-olds
  • 13 – 18 year-olds.

For each age group, the Program is intended to be delivered through a series of sessions on two key topics:

  1. parental absence
  2. frequent relocation.

It is recommended that participants attend all sessions to maximise the impact of the program.

Session activities

At the start of each session, children take part in an informal activity to get to know the other Defence children attending the program. Following this, children participate in structured activities to improve their management of Defence-related parental absence or frequent relocation challenges. Each session concludes with a discussion on how children and parents can access relevant support.

Program objectives

The program is intended as a starting point for children to further develop through discussions with family, using take-home resources and activities with parents, and through accessing other services that DMFS provides.

Children and young people will learn age-appropriate strategies to enable them to better manage the challenges associated with Defence-related parental absence and relocation.

Accessing the program

The ADF Equip program is free to attend. Sessions vary in length with up to 10 children per session. Program participants include children from local Defence families, who may attend a variety of different local schools.

Session timing and frequency will depend on DMFS Area Office resources. Once you have submitted the form, your local DMFS Area Office will contact you to discuss supports and when the next session is likely to be scheduled.

If you are interested in accessing the program, please submit an Expression of Interest form at https://defencesurveys.com.au/n/vM2HB8K.

Toys

DMFS has Army, Navy and Air Force teddy bears that can be used to assist an ADF member’s dependants when they are away for Service reasons, such as deployment. Bears can be ordered directly from the Defence Member and Family Helpline at MemberAndFamilyHelpline@defence.gov.au.

Books

We have a range of children’s books, including the Sapper Pat, and Pepper Penguin series, which are designed to help young children understand more about the military lifestyle and develop coping strategies for parental absence.

Children can follow the adventures of teddy bear Sapper Pat in his overseas Army postings, and Able Seaman Pepper Penguin as he travels the world on Navy ships. The books give young children an easy-to-understand picture of life in the military, and what their parent might be experiencing while they are away from the family on deployments or postings. Pat and Pepper also show children ways to stay in touch, and positive ways to manage time apart and reunions.

Books can be ordered directly from the Defence Member and Family Helpline at MemberAndFamilyHelpline@defence.gov.au.

e-Books

Lecturer and researcher in early childhood education at the University of New England, Dr Marg Rogers, has developed two e-books for young children when their parents are absent from home. Anthony’s story, Now that I am big talks about the different things his parent does when they’re away from home, how much he misses them, and the things he can do to help while they’re away. Waiting for Daddy, Rose’s story features two year old Rose and the things she thinks and does while waiting for her Daddy to return home.

ADF Cadets and Scouts

The ADF Cadets is a community-based youth development organisation, which runs leadership, team-building and survival skills programs. Cadets have Navy, Army, Air Force and tri-Service units, and can be a great opportunity for young people to meet others from Defence families. There are hundreds of units across Australia, so belonging to Cadets can also give youths familiar routine and a continuity of experience in new locations.

Visit https://www.defenceyouth.gov.au/youth-programs/adf-cadets/ for more information.

Parents & families

Resources are available for parents with information and advice for guiding children through deployments and relocations, from very young children to teenagers.

Parental absence and relocations

The Absence from home support booklet contains sections for families with children.

Related: deployment

Community activities

DMFS also holds a variety of local events, such as welcome events at the start of the new posting cycle, workshops, information sessions and social and family activities. These events are an opportunity for Defence children to meet kids in the same situation as themselves, have a lot of fun and feel part of and proud of the Defence community.

In addition, there are a vast range of parent or hobby groups, information sessions and events which may benefit Defence parents.

Related: Your community