ML Blog

AIFS Conference 2022

Meaningful connection essential in supporting the wellbeing of contemporary ADF Families

Insights from Beck Rayner, Military Life Founder


Australian Institute of Family Study Conference 2022

EPoster References


1- SUPPORTING SERVICE FAMILIES- A report on the main problems facing spouses of Australian Defence Force personnel and some recommended solutions. Report by Sue Hamilton Assistant Secretary, Office of the Status of Women. April 1986.


2- ADF Families Survey- The ADF Families Survey is the primary Australian survey capturing information about experiences of service life directly from families of Defence personnel. The survey has been run five times since 2009.


3- In 2012, DMFS (formerly DCO) launched the Defence Member and Family Helpline 1800 624 608, a national intake line and centralised point for Defence families to access support, advice or referrals.


4- Social Media post, Defence Families Australia

“You may have noticed we have turned public comments off on our social media channels. Recent landmark court cases have been the catalyst for this change. Our team work part-time and flexibly. This means we are unable to continuously moderate comments on this page. We still value your feedback and thoughts, and encourage you to contact us in any of the many other ways to reach us! Contact us by direct message on social media, or by email or phone using the details listed on our website


5- In 2009, DMFS (formerly DCO) streamlined its services to focus on five outputs: absence support (where an ADF member is away from the family for Service reasons), mobility support (where the family relocates due to posting), critical incident support, self-reliance support, and management and policy advice.

Delivery of Bereavement and Family Support Services through the Defence Community Organisation

Australian National Audit Office. ANAO Audit Report No.9 2012-13. Point 51 Pg33.


6- Changed from Opt-out to Opt-In system due to major privacy reforms in 2014. The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012, which commenced on 12 March 2014, introduced many significant changes to the Privacy Act, including:-the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) regulate the handling of personal information by Australian and Norfolk Island Government agencies and some private sector organisations (they replaced the Information Privacy Principles and National Privacy Principles)


7- Dr Amy Johnson, Central Queensland University, Discipline Lead for Journalism and Public Relations School of Education and the Arts. Dr Johnson was awarded a PhD from CQ University for her thesis: Inside and Outside: An Investigation of Social Media Use by Australian Defence Force Partners.

‘Perfect Partners’: The impact of military service on women and families



8- The 2019 Defence Census was the eighth census conducted by Defence since 1991. The census captures the demographic profile of the entire Defence workforce of around 100 000 people comprising the permanent (SERCAT 7 and 6) and reserve (SERCAT 5, 4 and 3) components of the ADF and the Defence APS. The Defence Census is used extensively by ADF and Departmental staff involved in developing personnel, financial and non-financial conditions of service and family support policies and programs.


9- Connectedness & Health: The Science of Social Connection


10- Joanne Cacciatore, Researcher Arizona State University


11- Insight and quote from Military Life Founder Beck Rayner. Formulated following a podcast recording with former Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester


12-Insight and quote from Military Life Founder Beck Rayner.


13- John Cacioppo, Social Neuroscience Researcher in book Lost Connections, Author Johann Hari page 83

Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression – And the Unexpected Solutions


Related Articles and Publications you might like to take a look at


Australian Institute of Family Studies Webinar: Engaging communities: What’s involved and how it’s done

“If they provide the resources needed to enable the community to share their aspirations and their concerns and their values, and if the community does this, and if these aspirations and concerns are incorporated into the plans and decisions that are made, then, top box here, then the community will have greater trust and confidence in those institutions. And the institutions will have a better understanding of the needs of the community. That will in turn lead to greater uptake of services by community members.”

Dr. Tim Moore, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Community Child Health Murdoch Children’s Research Institute


Article: Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?


Article: Neighbour Day: It’s time to reconnect with those around us.

The importance of social connection

It is now widely accepted that loneliness and social isolation are detrimental to the mental and physical health of people, families and communities (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2015; Masi et al., 2011). In various local and international policy debates, contemporary levels of loneliness are being likened to public health epidemics, with recent Australian studies estimating that between one-in-four to one-in-six people experience loneliness in any given year (Lim, 2018; Mance, 2018).

In contrast, social participation has been positively associated with improved overall health and wellbeing. Studies show that people who are integrated within a supportive, trusting and collaborative community are better equipped with resources to improve their health (Berry & Shipley, 2009; Betts Adams et al., 2011). Strong social ties with others may encourage individuals to engage in health-promoting activities such as exercise and may help to buffer the effects of stressful situations (Berry & Shipley, 2009; Betts Adams et al., 2011; Cohen et al., 2000; Cohen & Wills, 1985). Research suggests that social connectedness can encourage feelings of purpose, belonging, identity and security for those who are embedded within social groups and neighbourhoods (Cohen et al., 2000).


Article: Tracy Bower, Forbes 2020, How to build community and why it matters so much.