The Defence community is a rich and vibrant one. There are associations, organisations, community groups, social groups, and playgroup networks across the country.
And it’s no different in the Hunter region of New South Wales. The area has a long established history with Defence and, as a result, there is a consistent influx of new residents and people seeking to connect with their local communities.
This is all made a little easier by a group of volunteer Defence partners affectionately known as ‘Buddies in the suburbs’. The group provides social support to ADF partners during the sometimes nerve-wracking and challenging task of establishing a new support network by running social activities to connect families.
The volunteers have varied lived experiences and backgrounds but all share the common goal of wanting to make it a little easier for ADF partners to meet new people and establish their support system in the area.
There are sub-groups in Newcastle, Nelson Bay, East Maitland and Raymond Terrace.
Kay Elliott is the longest serving ‘buddy’, and has volunteered with the program for just under five years. Her family is nearing the end of their Defence journey, with her ADF partner now close to retirement. The couple are excited to be establishing themselves in Medowie for good. Kay, however, is not planning on slowing down anytime soon and is looking forward to continuing her volunteer work within the ADF community.
At the other end of the spectrum, Newcastle ‘buddy’, Dayna Launer and her partner are relatively new to managing the mobile Defence lifestyle as a couple. Her partner joined the Air Force in 2009 and RAAF Williamtown is the couple’s first posting. They initially established their social connections through work and their shared love of fitness. They are both enjoying the active, outdoor lifestyle the Hunter provides and Dayna is proud to share what the area has to offer with other ADF partners.
Following a posting to Tindal, Air Force partner, Katie Walters re-connected with the network upon returning to the Hunter. Having enjoyed a positive experience previously, she didn’t hesitate to connect with the group again.
“The Buddies have been a great source of information, friendship and support to me over the years,” said Katie. “They have helped me to establish a network of friends who have become like family.”
Mel Kirkpatrick. | Defence Families Matters