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Defence Member and Family Support

For ADF members and their families

1800 624 608

Emergency & crisis support

DMFS 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 Member and Family Helpline on 1800 624 608.

DMFS's support services should not be used as a substitute for Triple-Zero emergency services.

If you need support or advice at any time, day or night, you can contact the Defence Member and 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), DMFS 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 –

See the Defence response to COVID-19 website or our range of resources covering changes to leave and other arrangements, and wellbeing for members and their families on our Coronavirus advice page.

What assistance is available?

If you would like to discuss any of the above, have questions, or just want someone to talk to, DMFS 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.

More information

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

There are a number of additional resources and support services available:

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).

When is assistance provided?

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 DMFS's role to organise the necessary travel arrangements.

What assistance is provided?

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.

What else does DMFS do?

In addition to organising transport and accommodation for the visiting person, DMFS 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.

More information

Call the all-hours Defence Member and 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

DMFS 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 Member and 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.
    131 114

  • 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.

Defence Family and Domestic Violence Strategy

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:

  • ensure the safety of those subjected to or affected by the use of family and domestic violence
  • provide those subjected to or affected by family and domestic violence with appropriate immediate supports and referral to professional services
  • provide Defence personnel with the skills, knowledge and confidence to identify people subjected to and affected by family and domestic violence and respond effectively to their needs
  • promote accurate understanding of family and domestic violence and its impact on the workplace.

Related: Defence Family and Domestic Violence Strategy

Compassionate consideration

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.

When is compassionate consideration given?

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.

DMFS assessment reports

DMFS 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 DMFS 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 Member and 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.

Related: Command

Compassionate support

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.


DMFS 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.

Support available

A Defence Social Worker or Defence Member and 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 DMFS 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 DMFS worker will also develop a longer term strategy to ensure the wellbeing of your family for the remainder of the member’s absence.

How to apply

The ADF member, their dependants or the member’s Commanding Officer can apply for emergency support for the family by contacting the Defence Member and Family Helpline at 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.

Related: Finance