Defence Family Matters : September 2016
DFMSeptember2016 29 28 INTHESPOTLIGHT FINDING GOOD HELP TO FIND GOOD CHILDCARE FAMILIES HAVE THEIR SAY “We relocated in July so I could take up a posting at Victoria Barracks, but we knew that finding suitable childcare would be challenging,” Sue said. “There is significant demand for places in Sydney and our experience in cities, like Canberra and Brisbane, was that you need to be on waiting lists for months to get positions in good centres.” After calling the Defence Family Helpline for information, she was contacted by Kim Freckleton, an experienced childcare centre manager from Mission Australia—the organisation contracted to manage Defence childcare centres and DCO’s pilot childcare placement service. “Kim was fantastic! She asked what I was looking for in childcare, the children’s ages, what we saw as most important in their care arrangements, the days we needed, and where we would be living and working.” Kim kept in regular contact with Sue as she spoke to each childcare centre, working with the family to ensure the solution would work for them. “Sometimes there was a great centre available, but it just wouldn’t have worked to Finding the right CHILDCARE IS CHALLENGING for parents at the best of times. When waiting lists are up to 18 months long and you’re an ADF member taking up a posting mid-year, it’s GOOD TO GET PROFESSIONAL HELP on board. try to get the boys there across Sydney’s peak-hour traffic each morning. “I had confidence in Kim’s assessment of each centre too, knowing she was looking at their learning programs and their rating under the national quality framework.” In the end, the family selected a centre that could take both boys on the days they were looking for and met their criteria of being close to Tim’s work, with a good learning program and a great outdoor play area. Sue said she really valued how the service recognises the impact of moving regularly on Defence families’ ability to secure positions at quality childcare centres. “Kim was proactive and positive in helping us find a childcare solution. She took away a significant stressor that is very time-consuming. “Having childcare lined up before we relocated meant both Tim and I were able to start work right away in Sydney. “Our boys have now been in the centre for two weeks, have bonded well with their carers and are happy at the centre we chose.” n www.defence.gov.au/dco 28 ArmyOfficer,SueGraham,just posted to Sydney with husband Tim and their two children Luke and Sam, and was not looking forward to having to find appropriate childcare on top of moving house. Colonel Sue Graham with husband Tim and Luke (4) and Sam (2). Photo by Colin Worley. ALEX DEVALENTIN KAREN LANGE T housands of families told us how they felt about relocation, member absence and Member with Dependants (Unaccompanied) arrangements. The site will be easier to navigate and will allow for better integration with social media, including the new DCO Instagram account. Social media such as Instagram will also help improve connection between families. Through photos and videos Defence families can share their experiences and wisdom and help newer members of the Defence community, an idea proposed by some of those completing the survey. Watch out for these and other new initiatives in the coming months. n The ADF Families Survey is your chance to have an open and honest conversation with Defence about the support you and your family receive. The next survey will be conducted in early 2017. Partners and parents of ADF members and single ADF mums and dads HAVE TOLD DEFENCE ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES and opinions through the ADF Families Survey. The report shows that many families are satisfied with their ability to cope with the military way of life. But there are some areas in which Defence can do better. Key areas of concern for families were around Defence’s understanding of contemporary family structure, communication with families, and awareness of absence from home support and the resources available. SO WHAT IS DEFENCE DOING? Defence has now reviewed its policy for the recognition of relationships and has moved to a more contemporary and equitable process. The policy standardises recognition requirements for married and de facto couples and relationships registered under state and territory law. (more about the changes on page 26). Defence Community Organisation (DCO) is also working on helping families increase their awareness and understanding of absence from home support. Plans include providing new online resources and targeted information to those who need it. While ‘opting in’ for deployment support calls is an issue, in that we can’t call you without your permission, we want to make sure you know how to contact us when you need our support. There is also work underway on improving how we communicate with families. DCO is currently putting the finishing touches to their updated website.