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Defence Member and Family Support

For ADF members and their families

1800 624 608

Members with Dependants Unaccompanied (MWDU)

Sometimes, when a member is posted, families may choose to remain in their current location while the military member moves alone to their new posting.

When families choose to live apart in this way, it is called 'Member With Dependants Unaccompanied' and is often referred to by the military as 'MWDU' or 'MWD(U)'.

Families choose this option for a range of reasons that support family stability. For example, 'going MWDU' allows partners to keep their current job, children to stay at their school, and family members to maintain consistent access to healthcare.

Choosing to go MWDU is an important family decision. Families should research the new posting location and discuss the implications of living apart and its possible affect each family member before coming to a decision.


To help you make an informed decision about MWDU, we have prepared a factsheet with some more detailed information and advice, and a worksheet for you to work through with your family.

The polices governing MWDU and its accompanying entitlements are described in Chapter 8 of Defence’s Pay and Conditions Manual. You should read this chapter thoroughly before choosing to go MWDU.

Allowances for MWDU families

If your family decides to go MWDU, military members may access a range of benefits, including:

  • Exemption from the normal contribution, within their ceiling, for accommodation in the posting location (members still contribute to rental costs in their family‚Äôs location)
  • reunion visits,
  • separation allowance,
  • utilities allowance, or
  • food allowance.

Remember, Defence does not normally provide a removal at Commonwealth expense and subsidised housing if families choose to move to a personal location.

Removal and/or housing benefits are only provided in circumstances that are directly related to Service requirements or in approved compassionate circumstances.

For detailed information, read Chapter 8 of Defence’s Pay and Conditions Manual.

Families should be formally recognised by Defence

Military members should ensure their partner and dependants are formally recognised by Defence so that they can receive support.

To do this, members should refer to Recognition of relationships and dependants on the Pay and Conditions website.

Can parents be recognised as dependants?

In some circumstances, a member’s parents can be recognised as their dependants, with the approval of the Chief of the Defence Force. This will give parents access to the full range of Defence support services and entitlements.

To be classed as a dependant, parents must normally live with the military member. They may be considered as a dependant where they receive substantial financial support or personal care from the member, or where they are acting as a housekeeper or guardian for the member’s dependant child.

For more details, read Defence’s Pay and Conditions Manual.