mental health

What happens now to children and families after these horrors?

In the aftermath of the horrors of the attacks in Bondi and Wakeley, many community members have been involved in or witnessed traumatic events. These can  impact mental health and family life, what we call events which cause moral injury. 

Our team has co-created resources to support children who grow up in families where a parent has a moral injury. As Anzac Day approaches, it is also relevant to consider defence, veteran and first responder (service) families.

What is moral injury

Moral injury (MI) is a deep wounding of the soul. It is the social, psychological and spiritual response when something or someone has gone beyond the limits of an individual’s deeply held values and beliefs. This can include events where vulnerable members of society are affected. 

In countries like Australia, members of the public seldom witness such extreme events. That’s in contrast to service members who are more frequently exposed to trauma. As such, they are more likely to have a moral injury than the general population.

Moral injury can also be caused by abuse or betrayal by individuals and organisations. For example, a child might be abused by an adult who should be protecting them. Similarly, an organisation might say they will support staff members who injure themselves at work but fail to do so. 

Sometimes injuries can be compounded. For example, a police officer might experience an injury when they witness the mistreatment of a community member. When they report it, however, they might be betrayed, demoted or ostracised by management or colleagues. 

Interestingly, moral injury is not yet considered a psychological condition. However, it can lead to mental health conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression. It should be noted that all of us feel upset or shaken at times by what we experience or see in everyday life. This does not mean we will develop a moral injury, because it is caused by a deep wound, generally from very traumatic events.

What does moral injury feel like

Those with a moral injury feel a deep sense of shame and betrayal and experience feelings of unworthiness or dirtiness after seeing or being part of such events. They might think they could have done more, despite the impossible choices they might have faced in an emergency.

Those with a moral injury can withdraw from their family members and friends because of these feelings. They might think they are unworthy of loving relationships. They may even fear contaminating their loved ones because they feel guilty for what they have done or failed to do.

How does moral injury impact family life

Despite their best efforts to shield them, a parent’s moral injury can negatively impact children’s and teenager’s family life and mental health. Children generally misinterpret their parent’s withdrawal as rejection. They can blame themselves for their parent’s behaviour and even the moral injury.

Also, children might be exposed to their parent’s aggressive risk-taking behaviours. The parent can be over protective because of the danger they themselves have been exposed to. Children’s world view is often impacted by their parent’s. Children and teenagers might also start to see the world as a dangerous place, or that those in authority, or government departments and organisations cannot be trusted.

Adding to these challenges is the availability of mental health services for all family members, especially for those in regional, rural and remote communities. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found 30% of defence members and 50% of veterans live in these communities. So do many first responders. Therefore, there is a need for online resources and support for these families.

Our research and resources

Research showed a lack of resources to support this group of children and their families. Our Child and Family Resilience team worked with Australian and international research partners from Canada and the UK to address this need. We gathered the voices of adult children and spouses of veterans and first responders with a moral injury. And we also collected stories from support workers and clinicians who support those with a moral injury. 

We used these narratives to co-create free, online research-based resources to support children with a parent who has a moral injury. This includes a research-based storybook to support children’s understanding of their parent’s behaviour and develop coping strategies. The storybook has research-based information in the prologue and epilogue to assist educators, parents and support workers to understand what these children experience. 

Accompanying the storybook is a research-based module for parents to build their capacity to assist these children. We are also co-creating a module for support workers and educators.

Who is the storybook for

It should be noted that the book is not suitable for group or classroom readings; rather it is only for children who are already experiencing these issues at home. It is designed for one-to-one reading with a child and their parent, school counsellor, support worker, or educator. 

Bibliotherapy provides a non-pharmaceutical intervention to improve an individual’s mental health through reading, reflecting and discussing books to improve understanding. In this way, storybooks provide children with an opportunity to empathise with the characters and practice their emotional responses safely. The book is designed as a springboard for discussing the story and what the child is experiencing at home. 

Stakeholder feedback 

Our online survey provided feedback on the suitability of the resource. The participants were stakeholders, including service personnel, their families, and those supporting them. They provided helpful feedback to help us improve the book, along with comments such as these:

 “…I am currently still processing the injuries… I have share[d] it with …my children…(now adults) … they hurt from my actions or inactions, they become wounded children”.

”My children are grown, however, this would have been a very helpful resource for us”.

“Real words to start the conversation”.

“So sad this book wasn’t around when [my partner’s] kids and granddaughter were younger, realising what a difference it may have made if they could have understood what was happening with him.”

“This wee book provides the clearest explanation yet of the origins and initial steps toward explaining and solving a highly complex problem that (as veterans) my husband and I have been grappling with for the past 62 years”.

What next

The book is also being piloted with UK families through the Kings College of Military Health Research. Our team will adapt resources from feedback by July’s end to create a final copy that will be released online.

We wish we lived in a world where moral injury and mental health disorders are non-existent. In the meantime, our team needs further funding to co-create more free research-based bibliotherapy resources for children impacted by their parent’s occupations.

Marg Rogers is a senior lecturer in early childhood education at UNE. She is a postdoctoral fellow within the Manna Institute, building place-based research capacity to improve the mental health of regional, rural and remote Australia. She researches marginalised voices within families and education, especially in regional, rural and remote communities. Specifically, she researches ways to support the wellbeing of defence, veteran, first responder and remote worker families and early childhood educators.

Why we must say YES to supporting mental health now

Mental health exists on a continuum, so we need to teach young people how to obtain and maintain good mental health. The approach to include mental health education and literacy in schools needs to be targeted to suit youth needs, proactive and educational not clinical in nature. 


Firstly, young people need to be consulted with. Our research has found young people find schools reactive in times of crises. Preventative approaches are rarely taken to support youth wellbeing. Young people could be included through school advisory groups, student surveys, and co-development of programs. Taking into account needs consistently throughout the school year will help to ensure student voice is heard, and MHL programs and mental health education are tailored to what they are identifying as gaps in their knowledge. 


Secondly, the aim of mental health education and MHL program is not to diagnose or teach young people the diagnostic criteria for a mental health disorder. Rather, it is to educate young people on what, for example, anxiety is, how to recognise it and what to do if you experience it. Low mood and feeling anxious can be in reaction to certain life stressors. Young people need to know how to cope with this. When feeling anxious becomes a persistent dread and impacts everyday functioning, young people should know to talk to a trusted adult or health professional. A MHL program can help to teach young people this. 

YES (Youth Education and Support)

Our MHL program, Youth Education and Support (YES) was adapted and developed to suit Australian youth needs. We included youth voice during the development, consulted educators and allied health professionals working with young people. We framed it based on an evidence-based model. The universal design for learning, and the health curriculum were also used to align the program within the current system of education. What we have learnt so far of the YES program is:

  • There has been an increase in MHL after participation
  • Young people have found the program interesting, educational and helpful
  • Schools want MHL to be included in their learning

Healthy coping

A large focus of the program is teaching young people healthy coping skills, and how to seek and give help. Although schools tell students how to access onsite counselling or psychological support, this information is not always retained by students. Consistent education and reminders of the support across the years is important for young people. 

By building their knowledge from primary school years up until the end of secondary school, their understanding of MHL can be broadened and different topics suitable to age can be targeted. For example, during primary school the focus may be on understanding emotions, and understanding the fight, flight, freeze and fawn response. 

How to seek help

For the upper secondary school years, it may be about coping during exam time, identity formation, and understanding where to seek help once they leave the school environment (for example,  how to seek help from a psychologist or counsellor). However the target for each year level should be based on consultation with key stakeholders, including young people, and professionals working with young people such as educators, psychologists and/or wellbeing staff. 

For mental health education and MHL to be successful, evidence-based interventions or evidence-based curriculum needs to be included. 

Stigma still exists

Evidence-based practice is not new in education and government policy, and helps ensure better outcomes for communities and services provided. Education also does not exist in a vacuum. The school environment plays a role in shaping MHL, particularly attitudes towards mental health. Stigma still exists towards mental health and mental illness, and is a major barrier for young people to seek help and solve mental health problems. 

Increasing awareness of mental health can help to ensure young people hold a positive attitude towards mental health. Strategies include fostering a positive classroom climate, and discussing help seeking options with students. Increasing awareness does not mean teaching young people the DSM-5. Providing mental health education in a safe and non-judgmental space could help those who are significantly struggling seek help sooner. 

Feeling alone

Many young people feel alone in their personal experiences. Normalising different emotions and providing healthy options to cope could benefit young Australians in future. For this to happen, the workforce supporting young people in schools needs to be strengthened.

Teachers are overworked, and do not have the necessary training or confidence to deliver mental health education and MHL currently. 

But this could be rectified by a mental health education curriculum as part of the health curriculum. Teachers could be trained to teach, with mental health professionals supporting teachers to do so. This will require government bodies to consult with experts in the field of youth mental health, MHL and education to firstly develop the curriculum. Universities will need to include this content in their degrees, and then evaluation needs to occur throughout. This is no small task. But it could make an invaluable difference to the mental health and wellbeing of Australian young people. This is not offering intervention, therapy or counselling services.

A step forward

A step forward includes comprehensive mental health literacy, ensuring the curriculum covers the core aspects of mental health theoretical framework, tailored to be age-appropriate and culturally sensitive. 
Does focusing on diagnostic models of mental health in mental health programs lead to more harm? We’re exploring this question in the working group at the University of Oxford, to identify if these approaches further stigma.

From left to right: Christine Grove is adjunct associate professor, Monash University School of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Vice-Chancellor Research Fellow (Advanced), School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia and a Fulbright Fellow. Alexandra Marinucci is a research fellow, School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University.

If not now, then when is the right time to re-envisage what schools could be?

The cold fact is that despite continuous reforms and growing investments over the past two decades, educational performance – and especially equitable performance – of Australia’s schools isn’t improving. Indeed, in many ways it is getting worse.

Consider these statistics. Since 2000 Australia’s PISA scores have dropped 33 – 24 points in maths, reading, and science. Students’ performance in literacy and numeracy since 2008 when National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) was inaugurated has been stagnant or declining (ACARA database). During the same time total education spending per student has gone up by 46 per cent adjusted to 22 per cent increase in the number of students (Rice, Edwards, & McMillan, 2019).

Additionally, there are large achievement gaps between different equity groups, such as rural and urban students, Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, and socio-educationally disadvantaged and other students (Australian Government, 2023).

Together with these inconvenient trends, we are seeing alarming signs in declining student health and wellbeing. Anxiety, depression, and conduct disorders are leading mental health concerns among our youth. For example, one in seven 4-17-year-olds was found to have a mental disorder. One in six adolescents reports problematic levels of loneliness (Lim, Eres, & Peck, 2019).

Leaders and professionals in the Australian health and education sectors have been striving to provide best possible care and learning for every child. While there has been progress made for some, these efforts are not matching realities as well as they could despite increased spendings on both health and education. Doing more of what we have done before is clearly not the best way to make school a better place to improve student learning and wellbeing.  

In our Discussion Paper titled “Reinventing Australian schools for the better wellbeing, health, and learning of every child” (Sahlberg et al., 2023) we outline a new vision for uplifting student learning, wellbeing, and health in our schools. We argue that the core purpose of schooling needs to shift from primarily focusing on narrow academic intelligence to equal value learning, wellbeing and health outcomes for balanced whole-child development and growth. 

What might this look like in practice? Rather than trying to simply jump to the solution, we instead suggest adopting a whole-child and whole-school approach as a leading principle for change. A whole-child approach requires schools to fully emphasise the complete scope of a child’s needs and being, including cognitive, social, emotional, physical, ethical, and psychological, rather than concentrating dominantly on only part of a child. A whole-school approach means the responsibility for developing and meeting the needs of the whole child are shared in a coherent way, equally by all at the school and potentially beyond. 

We believe a whole-child and whole-school approach optimises the opportunities for all children to grow up as the individuals they want to become.

Generally speaking, in Australia, public policies to improve education outcomes for all have overlooked the interconnection between health, wellbeing, and learning. Although well intended, health and wellbeing initiatives in Australian schools are often separate projects, courses, or reaction opportunities to those who are at risk or already have health and wellbeing issues. We suggest that health should be viewed as an essential future skill that all children should learn also in school. 

If not now, then when is the right time to re-envisage what schools could be? Together with the whole-child and whole-school approach our Discussion Paper offers four other principles to support uplifting learning, wellbeing, and health of all children in Australian schools.

1. Co-designed, evidence-based, and flexible learning and wellbeing approaches

All children should be supported to achieve health, wellbeing and learning goals in school that matter to them in ways that work for them; keeping them engaged and motivated to live, learn and be well.

2. Health and wellbeing as essential 21st century skills

Health and wellbeing should be seen as outcomes of school education of equal importance to literacy, numeracy and other academic domains. This includes learning skills in digital, mental, socio-emotional, nutritional, and physical wellbeing for all children as early as possible, in developmentally appropriate ways. 

 3. Building an engaging culture of health, wellbeing and learning in school

A safe, inclusive, positive, engaging and healthy school culture throughout the whole school matters to support the development of the whole child. 

4. Partnerships between services, families, and schools 

Schools should not be isolated silos. They are important community assets. In our vision, they are community centres or hubs, effectively and collaboratively meeting local children’s needs through relationships and partnerships between community members, one of which is the school.

The key to transforming Australian education to be fairer and better for all is more inclusive and informed grassroot conversations. The vision of more holistic and equitable Australian school is not just a dream, it is mission possible. A whole-child and whole-school approach to improve children’s health, wellbeing, and learning has a solid foundation in research and practice around the world. 

The principles and call to action we have outlined would not require discarding everything we currently do, nor simply ask more of educators in the current context. But it would encourage us to stop doing anything that does not support a whole-child and whole-school approach in schools to address particular child, school and community needs. Most of all, it requires bold new ways of thinking about children, their schooling and what it takes to secure healthier and happier futures for all of them.

Generally, we argue, educators and policymakers should see themselves as having a wider responsibility for all children and young people, not just narrow academic learning of those at their own schools. This is the time to restore meaning to school as a place of shaping well-educated, healthy, and conscious generations, and – most of all – happy children. 

Dr. Pasi Sahlberg is a professor of educational leadership at the University of Melbourne where he leads research on learning through play, growing up digital, and equity in education. His other fields of expertise are whole-system change, teacher education and development, cooperative learning, and teaching mathematics.

Professor Sharon Goldfeld is a paediatrician and director, Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH) the Royal Children’s Hospital and Theme Director, Population Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Her research program focuses on investigating, testing and translating sustainable policy relevant solutions that eliminate inequities for Australia’s children.

What happens now to students who are first-in-family to go to university?

Students who are the first in their family to attend university remain severely under-represented, despite policy efforts to widen participation in Australian higher education.  Many first-in-family students come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and, as a result, there has been extensive focus on how social class influences their experiences at university. However, there has been significantly less attention to the role that gender plays.

We conducted a study with 48 first-in-family students over three years – the First-in-Family Project – documenting their transition from secondary school into university.  They came from ethnically diverse backgrounds and were recruited from across state, independent and faith-based secondary schools. All participants presented as cis-gender. The research focused on their experiences in higher education and how their aspirations changed in relation to such experiences. 

In our research, published in Gendering the First-in-Family Experience: Transitions, Liminality and Performativity (Routledge, 2022), we found that during the transition to university, many of the participants questioned the gender norms of their school and family environments.  It is at university where many first-in-family students are first exposed to a diversity of gender identities which often contrast the gender identities present in their secondary schools. Some students spoke of the pressure they felt during secondary school to be a particular type of girl or boy, while they felt there were fewer constraints at university.  

Of the 48 participants, 9 withdrew from university, 7 chose not to attend, and 2 deferred. We found that very few of our participants enrolled in elite sandstone institutions. Instead, most participants chose to attend universities close to home. We were interested in the role gender played in the first-in-family experience, and focused on three areas: gender and the family; gender and influential teachers; gender and mental health.

Gender and the family

Our research found that families of first-in-family students are supportive of their children’s education. Still, they do not necessarily have sufficient knowledge of higher education to be able to give advice about navigating the system.  Instead, families focused on emotionally supporting students; extended family members were often influential and an important resource when first-in-family students struggled.

We also found that family life and expectations were significantly gendered.  Mothers were more often the primary resource in terms of emotional support for the participants. In contrast, fathers were less involved. This was especially true for the girls in the study, where part of what formed their aspirations for university was their desire to experience the opportunities and futures their mothers were denied. The boys in the study wanted to be seen as independent in their decision-making, while this was less apparent for the girls. Ultimately, all students in the study saw their lives as filled with more opportunities than their parents. 

Gender and influential teachers

Close relationships with secondary school teachers informed the aspirations of first-in-family students – but these relationships were gendered as well.  While all participants could point to specific teachers from their secondary school who had been pivotal in supporting them to reach their goals of attending university, there were notable differences based on gender.  For example, the boys tended to inhabit an identity centred around effortless achievement – of having a chilled or relaxed disposition – and sought out teachers who could push them.  In contrast, most girls portrayed themselves as ‘work-focused’ and diligent in their studies and forged relationships with teachers they perceived to be nurturing. 

Gender and mental health

Within research on first-in-family students, there has recently been increased attention to how struggles with mental health may impact their experiences. Research in Australian higher education has found these students rated financial concerns, time management, lack of sleep, and the demands around assessment as having a significant impact on their mental health. Within our study, over 40 per cent of young women presented a mental health issue while just under four percent of young men did. While the girls were open about their mental health concerns from the onset, over the course of the research, the young men began to either experience poor mental health for the first time or became more open with us about their mental health. 

Policy Implications: Improving the first-in-family experience

Drawing on our research, we seek to make recommendations at the policy level and for educators working in both secondary and higher education. 

Highlighting the role of gender, the boys seemed to suffer more from a lack of time management skills, which did not seem as much of a concern for the girls. Instead, the girls were more apprehensive about their ability to succeed when there was less access to personalised one-on-one support at university than they had experienced in high school.  

Furthermore, in terms of mental health, the girls in the First-in-Family Project were more open about their struggles with mental health. This highlights the gendering of mental health and how support services may need to be more attuned to gender differences for students from non-traditional backgrounds.

For those working in higher education, it is also important to note that many participants struggled to integrate socially with other university students who were mainly from middle-class backgrounds.  They found the experience isolating, and they doubted themselves.  There were few examples of students taking pride in their first-in-family status.  This was compounded by how many participants experienced confusion over pragmatics (e.g. timetables, scheduling, commuting) and how to navigate and conduct themselves at university. To conclude, while investments in widening participation are to be commended, the struggles of first-in-family students highlight how more can be done to familiarise students from disadvantaged backgrounds with what university entails.

Garth Stahl is an associate professor in the School of Education at the University of Queensland. His research interests lie on the nexus of neoliberalism and socio-cultural studies of education, identity, equity/inequality, and social change. Currently, his research projects encompass theoretical and empirical studies of learner identities, sociology of schooling in a neoliberal age, educational reform and gendered subjectivities.

Sarah McDonald is a Lecturer based at the Centre for Research in Education & Social Inclusion in UniSA Education Futures, University of South Australia. Her research interests are in gendered subjectivities, girlhood, social mobility, social barriers, and inequalities in education.

We build submarines and the defence force. Now we must support the families who work in them

The Federal Government has plans to expand Australian Defence Forces (ADF) to a 40-year high. They hope to increase the forces by 30% (18,500 extra personnel by 2040), the biggest increase since the Vietnam War. This will inevitably lead to an increase in the number of children and parents impacted by military service. 

It won’t just be enough to recruit new soldiers, sailors and aviators – retention will also be critical and we know that Defence families play a key role here. Defence families are depended on to provide a crucial service to the ADF, often at significant cost to their own wellbeing. Defence families are mostly ‘invisible’ in our communities, and struggle to get access to the support and understanding they need.  

Our PhDs explored the experiences of young children and partners in defence families and sheds light into some of the factors affecting the ADF, military members, and their spouses, children and loved ones.

Dutiful housewife and children model

One of the major challenges is attracting and retaining staff because of the high demands of the job. The military is a ‘greedy institution’, demanding great sacrifice from the defence member and their family

Most Defence families are expected to relocate at least every 2 years. Frequent relocations, and absences from home, make it incredibly challenging for Defence families to have their own careers and supportive relationships within education settings, as the former Minister for Defence, Peter Dutton highlighted in comments earlier this year. The new federal government announced a funding boost to 48 community-based organisations providing value to defence families and building connections in July.

As Defence is recognising, the expectation of partners who need to sacrifice their own career to support the career of the ADF member is out of step with the vast majority of modern families with dual careers. It is also out of step with children who are connected to peers, educators and the wider community.

Over 73% of Australian couple families have two sources of income and women make up 19% of the ADF. The ADF seeks to be an employer of choice. 

Children are often quite connected to their extended family, and their community through extracurricular activities. Additionally, many build a sense of belonging and the sense of place within their education communities.

Perfect female partners and perfect children

There is pressure on partners of Defence members to perform a ‘perfect spouse’ role, which is at odds with modern society.

The model assumes ‘perfect partners’ will sacrifice not only their career, but will also dutifully perform a ‘perfect spouse’ role. They will not complain about the inconvenience of Defence life. For example, participants said they felt pressure to ‘suck it up and deal with it’ when they were having trouble during deployments. 

The model often requires families to give up access to sources of support which provide a protective buffer. These include extended family, friends within their community, educators, health care professionals and community groups. Additionally, access to specialist services may not be available where they are posted, or those services might not understand the experience of being a military family. 

Incorrect or outdated information about the support Defence families receive can have negative impacts, such as the perception that families receive free housing, as well as some more outlandish claims. For example, one participant said some of her friends thought she travelled on Air Force planes every time they went on holiday.

Children can also experience a lack of empathy from peers, and even teasing if they attend early childhood services or schools that have little experience with military families.

When families don’t receive the support and understanding they need from their communities, it can impact their willingness to stay associated with the military. 
Retention of highly trained members is difficult, with many personnel citing ‘family reasons’ when they leave. As one family explained

We had never planned for it to be Caleb’s career forever. In the end we chose to leave much earlier because of the promotion they offered him. This meant he was going to be away more often for training. When Jess turned 3 we realised Caleb had only been there 1 year of her life…(a) big issue for us. Caleb had missed the first soccer games and other big events in the children’s lives.

The military also makes enormous demands from spouses and families. Defence families have the impossible task of keeping each ‘institution’ (military and family) satisfied. 

This is especially the case when military members work away for months on deployment or lengthy training sessions. This leaves the partner to cope with their own careers, the needs of the children and run the household themselves. 

This is especially stressful when the children are younger and are less able to understand the sudden disappearance of a parent. Partners are dealing with their own responses, and the responses of their children which can sometimes feed off each other. Children’s responses vary, and can include a regression in physical, social, emotional and cognitive (learning) skills.

While time apart is challenging, reintegration is often harder, as the defence member tries to fit back into family life. The children and family have adapted and grown while they were away. 

He was really tired and tried sleeping during the day …. The kids … made really loud noises suddenly and he would be angry… it is hard because when you are on base you are with adults for 9 months…adults who are good at following orders. When he came home, he was dealing with a toddler and a pre-schooler.

… the kids were up to different stages so he was often babying them and they didn’t want to be babied. Nine months is a long time in a young child’s life and they changed a lot. He was also really upset by some of the parenting decisions I had made in his absence.

Some children emotionally protect themselves by not getting close to the parent who has been away. 

Sam had a rebellion against me …There was some nervousness about coming home and trying to fit back in with the children, especially after Sam’s episodes of not wanting to have anything to do with me.

Educators reported children were very clingly when their parent deployed, often reluctant to play with peers at first. They were also less able to cope with small moments of tension in play episodes and were likely to react emotionally.

Support for young children

Until recently, there was also a lack of Australian resources to assist young children understand transitions and stresses they faced within defence families. This showed a lack of understanding and acknowledgement of the sacrifices young children make within defence forces.

Just because very young children may not be able to say why they are upset, it matters to them when a parent is no longer available. Fortunately, funding has enabled free research-based resources to be created to help parents, educators and family/social workers better support young children. 

Apart from frequent relocations and parental deployment, some children can also experience a parent having service-related physical injuries, medical and mental health conditions. This has been highlighted in the Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide which has also highlighted these barriers to recruitment.

Where to from here?

Effective recruitment and retention will need policy changes. To address attrition, this Recommendation Report called for policies to guarantee families with children could only be asked to relocate a maximum of 3 times from birth to 18. The report also recommended using a flexible model for deployment where parents deploy for longer but less often. In this model, training episodes can be built into the deployment to reduce transitions at home, reducing stress for children. 

This will also assist children to build strong and supportive relations with their educators, peers and community. This builds stronger, more resilient communities who have a greater capacity to support children from defence communities.

Additionally, greater awareness of modern military experiences in the community will benefit current and future families. This means better understanding for families as they access community services, including GPs and early childhood educators, who might not appreciate the challenges of deployment and frequent relocations.


Marg Rogers is a senior lecturer in the Early Childhood Education and Care program at the University of New England and the lead researcher for the funded Early Childhood Defence Program project (ECDP). This team, along with their Steering Committee of stakeholders has developed research-based, free, online resources for early childhood educators, parents and family/social workers to better support young children from Australian military families. She tweets at @MargRogers11 and you can find her on LinkedIn.

Amy Johnson is a lecturer in journalism and public relations at CQ University. Her current research projects include the Early Childhood Defence Project, which develops research-based, free online resources for educators and parents to better support young children from Australian military families as well as projects which enhance veterans and family’s wellbeing. Amy has lived experience of military service as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy (Reserve) and the partner of an ADF veteran. She tweets at @AmyJohnsonPhD and you can find her on LinkedIn.