The APPVA Chairman, Rob Woods, recently raised some concerns with Secretary DVA,Liz Cosson, regarding what support was provided to those members deployed at short notice to the Solomon Islands as well as their families. Please see below for the responses.
Headquarters Joint Operations Command releases the list of personnel deployed on all ADF Operations to Defence Member and Family Support to allow contact with member’s next of kin. Veteran Family Advocate Gwen Cherne is also liaising with relevant outreach programs to ensure correct support is provided to Family and next of kin.
The next of kin of all deployed members are provided with a deployment pack of information, which advises of the support options available.
In addition, Defence Member and Family Support provide a personalised email to either the next of kin or a deployed member’s partner which offers regular contact calls, reminds the recipient of the availability of psychoeducational materials/resources including recorded webinars, emergency support and assistance (including the 24/7 Member and Family Helpline) and access to Defence Social Workers. The phone number for Open Arms is also provided.
Chaplains will provide pastoral care to families, meet chain of command requirements/referrals and/or act in response to a direct approach from members and families. These services are provided in cooperation with other support entities and mechanisms including Defence Member and Family Support.
Unit/Base/Ship Chaplains associated with the personnel deployed will be engaged with unit Operations and Personnel staff for proactive engagement at point of need, and will respond to reach back or referral from forward chaplaincy and command elements.
Defence Member and Family Support also facilitates access to pastoral care.
Defence Member and Family Support contact next of kin and the deployed member’s partner on behalf of Headquarters Joint Operations Command and deployed members. The contact is to establish a link to next of kin and provide general information on the operation (this is due to operational security). The home units of the deployed forces will also commence contacting next of kin as part of their normal welfare system.
Due to this being a rapid deployment, normal telephone access will be limited for deployed personnel in the initial phase of the Operation. A communications plan, including welfare phone access, will be implemented as part of normal deployment planning.
Families can contact Defence Member and Family Support via their 24/7 Helpline to seek support if/as necessary. Defence Member and Family Support also has the capacity to reach into Joint Operations Command, if required. Access to satellite phones for deployed members, to contact next of kin for emergency purposes, are available.
From a transition perspective, the Directorate of Transition Coaching and Support also provides information to partners and families of members who may be deployed on such operations, should the family be interested in understanding what supports are available to the member if transition is considered.
If following the deployment, any member makes the decision to transition from service the full suite of transition support is available to the member and family regardless of the member’s Service Category. More information regarding this support can be found at the ADF Transition website or by accessing the ADF Member and Family Transition Guide.
Commonwealth agencies put in place their own support mechanisms to support their people. Commonwealth personnel may have access to in theatre support services depending on the nature of their deployment.
The provision of debriefs and mental health care occurs as part of the mandatory redeployment phase from any Operation. ADF personnel will have an initial psych debrief on return to Australia and a follow-up session again at the three month mark post their return to Australia.
We would like to thank Rob for being so proactive with attaining this information. If you are a family member of deployed personell and you feel that the above isnt being adhered to or if you would like more information please do not hesitate to reach out to any of the APPVA contacts.