ML Blog

We did it! We used our Voices to make a difference



National Defence Partner Roundtable UPDATE

We did it…. we came together as a community to be heard, and DMFS listened!!!

Back in October 2021, I organised and facilitated the second National Defence Partner Roundtable with the topic of discussion- The NEW Defence Partner Experience.

We heard stories from a diverse group of defence partners (all NEW to defence life) who, like many, didn’t feel they were able or had an avenue to confidently have a voice on issues that impact them.

Former Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans’ Affairs Andrew Gee attended, listened intently, took notes and asked questions of the new Defence Partners. He wanted to hear us and genuinely wanted to help.

The common thread at the Roundtable… information and communication! NEW Defence Partners (and seasoned spouses) felt like they were left high and dry when it came to being told about the services they were able to access and what support they might qualify for.

A key recommendation discussed at the Roundtable was that there needed to be orientation sessions and/or a guide of some sort for new Defence Partners. It seemed like a simple solution, and it was confusing as to why such solutions didn’t already exist.

Following the roundtable, I and those in attendance wrote to former Minister Gee as a collective to urge he considers implementing some of the solutions suggested at the Roundtable and lookey, lookey what we have here…. the introduction of the Defence Member and Family Information Guide.

Is this guide a complete solution to the challenges Defence Partners face when accessing information and opening up communication channels with organisations like DMFS? No, but do you know what…. It is a start.

I’m going to mark it down as a win for Defence Partners and those amazing spouses who bravely stepped forward to use their voices at the Roundtable back in October 2021 because sometimes having a voice and telling it like it is isn’t easy (trust me, I know) especially when you are a new Defence Partner!

To be able to facilitate bringing REAL defence partner stories to the Minister, in real-time, filled me with pride and actual tears of happiness and still today, is something I am so amazed I was able to achieve because when it comes down to it… I’m just a Defence Partner living Defence Life (like all of you) who is passionate about telling Defence Partner stories and ended up here.

This community we have all created is a place where ALL Defence Partners feel valued and acknowledged. It’s a place where ALL Defence Partners have a voice, whether they have been doing Defence Life for 2 weeks or 20 years.⁠ It is a community like no other.

The fact that I get to help provide a voice for all of YOU is the BEST, but having this community behind me…. that is EVERYTHING!⁠

If you would like to get your hands on a copy of the Defence Member and Family Information Guide, download or request a hard copy of the Guide HERE

A huge THANK YOU go to New Defence Partners Jeni, Josh, Penny, Jessica and Shelley for telling their stories at the Roundtable, to Former Minister Gee for hearing them and to current Minister Keogh for following through with the Guide when he stepped into the role!

*Thanks also go to Subject Matter Experts Claire Harris, Amanda McCue, Amy Johnson, and Julia Michel and also to Veteran Family Advocate Commissioner Gwen Cherne and Defence Families Australia National Family Advocate Sandi Laaksonen-Sherrin for their insight.