Celebrating Defence families

National Families Week (May 13-19) is an opportunity to thank Defence families for their support of ADF and Australian Public Service (APS) personnel.

Family can mean different things to different people, and the week celebrates the diversity of all types of families and support networks.

For Pilot Officer Ricardo Kelly, his mum has been his biggest supporter and the driving force behind his Defence career.

“From day one, my mum has supported my application, training, and now my Defence career,” Pilot Officer Kelly said.

“For my mum, it was new and scary to have her youngest son move out of home and take on a career in Defence, but her support – even in the hard times – has helped us both grow.

“A life in Defence isn’t always easy, as it often comes with time away from family. However, I know I can speak for a majority of Defence personnel when I say family support is integral to the success of our careers.”

Navy duo Lieutenant Eleanor Williams, a maritime human resource officer, and her partner, Matthew, a maritime warfare officer, balance career aspirations and time together.

Lieutenant Williams and her partner have been together for two years. As a dual serving couple, they understand it can be difficult to ensure both are posted to the same location. With the help of career planning and support from their families, the job is a lot easier.

“As a dual serving couple, we have greater patience and understanding when movements change, but it can be hard for friends and family. We’re grateful to have their support and it is great to see that Defence is improving the benefits to support differing family dynamics,” Lieutenant Williams said.

‘I know I can speak for a majority of Defence personnel when I say family support is integral to the success of our careers.’

Balancing careers and posting cycles can be a challenge for many Defence families.

National operations manager at Mates4Mates Elyshia, her husband – a serving ADF member – and their two children, are embracing their most recent posting location in Brisbane.

“Moving around Australia has affected our family in every conceivable way, but I feel honoured to be a part of the Defence community. I feel endlessly proud of my spouse for his commitment to others,” Elyshia said.

“National Families Week is a reminder to take the time to appreciate the families we are blessed with and the families we hope to have in the future.

“It is important to take notice and appreciate the characteristics and values we see developing in our children, to feel the love and support we receive from our partners, and recognise the unique environment we live in within the Defence community.”

Balancing the needs of family can be a challenge over the course of a member’s career and as they transition out of the ADF.

Dennis Haines served with Air Force for more than 20 years – initially as a permanent member and then as a reservist for the final three year of service.

After his transition, Mr Haines joined the APS, where he worked overseas as part of the SEA5000 Hunter-class frigate resident project team based in Glasgow and later in Bristol.

Defence provided Mr Haines with an entitlement to have at least one reunion visit a year with his two older children.

For Mr Haines’ daughter, Sarah, seeing her dad and younger siblings move overseas while she stayed in Canberra was an adjustment. However, she said she was grateful to Defence for funding her travel to see her father and younger siblings.

“It would have been tricky not see my dad and brothers at all. I don’t think we realise how important or impactful physical connection is with someone until you can’t have it or it’s limited,” Sarah said.

“It’s important for Defence to celebrate National Families Week as it’s a fantastic way to demonstrate and show your gratitude to your loved ones. It’s nice to reinforce unity and connection within our families, but also the wider community.”

Public release

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