The importance of support Defence/Military Kids & Families at schools!

Prior to taking a work break and embarking on this new adventure, I worked as a Defence Transition Mentor (DTM) and Inclusion Support Assistant. This post is about my roll as DTM. The roll was amazing and even though we are a defence family, I was able to learn so much from listening to, spending time with and getting to know each defence kid and their families. We spent time chatting, playing games, completing crafts, writing postcards to the deployed troops and just understanding each others perspective.

In Australia and many countries across the world, programs are in place and are funded by government to enable schools who have a high percentage of Defence/Military children to engage a Defence Transition Mentor.

The role of the DTM is to help Defence children integrate into a new school environment, providing support and encouragement to those children not only upon arrival but throughout the year, being a link between Defence and the school and also to provide families and staff with information that may be of assistance.

Being a Defence family is something that we as a ‘family’ are proud to be a part of, however, the term Defence/Military Family means so many things. A Defence/Military family can comprise of:-

* 1 parent serving

* both parents serving

* single parent as serving member

* 1st move / multiple moves

* 1st school / multiple schools

* Long absences due to deployments, courses interstate and field exercise.

To put in perceptive by my own personal experience is:-

* 22years as a spouse (husband has served for 26yrs)

* 14 moves, including three overseas 

* 3 Children (born in Newcastle, Townsville, Hawaii)

* Eldest daughter – 9 schools and is currently in year 10

* Youngest daughter – 7 schools and is currently in year 9

* Son – 5 schools and is currently in year 5

Defence/Military families like all families face many challenges, however some of the challenges faced by Defence children are:-

* Generally move every 2 – 3 years and often interstate

* School curriculum changes which also includes different writing styles

* We live in a high tempo environment

* Long periods of separation due to deployments (generally 6- 8 months), field exercises (known as ‘bush’) and courses

* Saying goodbyes’ to more significant people by the time they are 18 than the average person will in their  lifetime – this is a very emotional time for our kids.

* Defence families are quite often not in a location that enables them the support of close family nearby

* Different sport availability

* Different language classes offered and never fully being able to complete a language class through school)

* Different rules, experiences and expectations

* day to day, week to week routines can change at times with very short notice ( a lot of our serving members in Darwin are currently on short notice to leave).

For those that are in different locations around the world, what support is available for Defence/Military kids at their schools. What do you like about it, what would you add? Leave me a comment below:)

My last day at the greatest school in Darwin. Pictured with Mrs Evans the Acting Principal at the time (amazing, amazing leader)
Anzac Day display board put together by the Defence Kids and students from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Darwin.

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