The Defence School Mentor Program is designed to offer assistance to secondary students who are part of Australian Defence Force (ADF) families. It aims to support them during the challenging periods of transitioning into and out of schools due to postings or when parents are absent due to deployments, exercises, or courses.
Defence families often experience frequent relocations, sometimes as often as every 2-3 years. This results in significant variations in educational programs as different schools and states have different curriculum, subject selections, and age requirements for enrolment.
In addition to these challenges, Defence families must constantly rebuild their community connections and establish new friendships and support networks with each relocation. These moves can also impact the spouse, who may need to change jobs or careers, adding financial pressure to the already stressful situation for the family.
The Department of Defence understands that the mobile lifestyle of Defence dependants can be disruptive. To address these issues, the Department of Defence, through the Defence Community Organisation, implemented the Defence School Mentor Program. This initiative reflects their commitment to supporting ADF members and their families and aims to minimise any negative impact on their education.
Frequently Asked Questions
The school must have at least 35 students from Defence families to be eligible for program support. A Primary School only needs to have 25 defence students.
Comet Bay College currently has approximately 60 students from defence families.
A Defence School Mentor provides assistance to students and their families. This may include:
- Supporting students to develop their self-confidence and resilience.
- Coordinating appropriate welcoming and farewelling strategies for young people of ADF families
- Encouraging young people to explore options and make the most of opportunities.
- Assisting young people manage the challenges of transitions.
- Referring students where necessary to appropriate student support services.
- Identifying the issues and needs of individual students.
- Developing and implementing programs and resources.
- Monitoring students day to day social and emotional well-being.
- Supporting young people at school during times of parental absence due to service requirements.
- Facilitating student participation in cultural, sporting, academic and personal development programs.
The DMFS office is open from 8.30am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.
Defence Member and Family Helpline 1800 624 608
The Defence Member and Family Helpline is your first point of call for support, information and connection with your community, including your local DMFS team. The Helpline is available 24-7 and is staffed by qualified human services professionals including social workers and psychologists. They can also provide advice on mailing addresses and postal regulations for overseas deployments, and can facilitate the passing of urgent messages to deployed personnel.
You can also email the Helpline on firstname.lastname@example.org
The DMFS website provides ready access to information for Defence families on a broad range of ADF member and family topics.
All requests for emergency DMFS assistance outside these hours and on public holidays should be directed to the National Welfare Coordination Centre on 1800 801 026
Regional Education Liaison Officers (REDLOs) are professionally trained teachers who understand both the different State and Territory education systems and the Defence lifestyle. They can advise Defence families and children on education issues, particularly related to relocating. REDLOs can assist with changing schools between the various State and Territory primary, secondary and tertiary education systems.
The Western Australian REDLO is Lorraine Van Haeften. You can reach her on email@example.com
REDLOs provide the key link for families to access the type of support that meets the needs of individual students. REDLOs have strong connections with schools and education systems, actively addressing concerns that impact Defence families and striving to provide equal educational opportunities for all mobile Defence students.
Here is a link to a Defence produced Deployment Support Booklet, for more information and practical tips
If you are being deployed or will be absent from home for an extended period of time, it may be helpful to advise the Defence Transition Mentor, Claire Hunt, so she can make an extra effort to keep an eye on your child and offer support.
Team Building Activities
Excursions, incursions and lunchtime activities are organised throughout the year for our Defence students. The goal is to promote the growth of relationships and nurture a supportive network among students and our Defence School Mentor Claire Hunt.
Some of the activities previously enjoyed by students include team building games, lip-sync music video creation, photo shoots, morning teas and participation in Department of Defence external events such as the Walk to Work Day at Garden Island and Welcome to the West in Fremantle. Participation is not compulsory, but is encouraged.
If you have any questions, or suggestions for future activities, please contact Claire Hunt
Since 2009, the Resilience Award has been very generously sponsored by Member for Warnbro Hon Paul Papalia CSC MLA – Minister for Police; Corrective Services; Defence Industry; Veterans Issues
Candidate Selection Criteria
Comet Bay College acknowledges that students whose parents or guardians serve in the Australian Defence Force may have distinctive educational requirements, primarily due to their mobile lifestyle and prolonged absences of a parent due to deployments and training. Consequently, cultivating resilience becomes an especially desirable quality to encourage and foster among this student group.
Resilient individuals exhibit a positive outlook on their surroundings, possess a strong sense of purpose, and cultivate inner strengths that empower them to perceive life’s obstacles as conquerable challenges.
All candidates demonstrate in school and/or in the community those characteristics listed below:
1. Demonstrates excellence in social responsibility and school community involvement
2. The student continually strives to ‘seek excellence’ to the limits of his or her abilities, to achieve their own personal academic goals.
3. Shows Leadership qualities and provide a positive role model for their peers
4. The student is courteous, helpful and caring in his or her relationships with other students and adults.
2022: Tara Cresswell
2021: Shaylah Arthurson
Saluting their Service
Comet Bay College displays a permanent Hall of Honour within our Australian Military History Museum. It is a collection of photographs of individuals who have been part of the Australian Defence Force – both past and present – and includes former students, parents, extended family members, staff, and members of the community. We wish to show our appreciation to all Defence members and their families for the sacrifices and contributions they make on behalf of all Australians.
We expand the Hall of Honour each year and invite interested people to submit a photo of their ADF family member and the name of the affiliated Comet Bay College student to our Defence School Mentor at Claire.Hunt@education.wa.edu.au
Australian Defence Force Cadet Units
Students at Comet Bay College are encouraged to participate in extra-curricular activities, sports, the arts and hobbies in their spare time. The Australian Defence Force Cadets (ADFC) is an engaging endeavor that fosters the development of a diverse set of skills, provides leadership prospects, and cultivates a positive culture of teamwork.
If your child is affiliated with a local cadet unit, please contact Claire Hunt on 0430 336 419 so they can be included in our College’s ANZAC Service and other Defence-related events.