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Defence School Mentor

 

The school is fortunate to have Defence School Mentor (DSM) Correna Wheeler on staff to assist Australian Defence Force (ADF) families. Correna has been the DSTA at The Willows State School for 10 years, in that time has acquired a wealth of experience and knowledge in the role. Correna has assisted with many Defence children and families at the school when they seek or require assistance. Within the school community the DSM provides assistance to Defence students and their families, and raises awareness of unique needs of these families due to the military lifestyle. A DSM is a liason between parents, teachers and students at school. It is not intended that the DSM work with one child on a long term basis.

Mobility has been identified as a key issue impacting upon our students. Approximately 20% of our school students are from Defence Force families and many others come from families working in occupations requiring relocations. Every year approximately 30% of our Defence students are posted out which can have a huge impact on young children.

The DSM and school have introduced a range of programs to support Defence families and students and to address issues relating to disruption to learning, curriculum differences and social and emotional wellbeing.  

Programs and Activities 
 
  • Anzac and Remembrance Day Ceremony
  • KIDSMART Relocation/Deployment Program
  • Kids Club - everyday (first & second break) L Pod
  • Art for Anzac Day Competition
  • Colouring- In Competitions for Prep-Year 2 and Year 3-6 Program
  • “Friendship Book for kids on the Move”
  •  Welcome and Farewell Packs for each student
  • Defence Students Welcome and Farewell Party
  • Lunch Break organized craft and activities in Defence Room
  • Defence News Update in school newsletter
  • Year 6 Defence Students farewell school Party
  • Defence members visit to school
  • Students can write a letter to deployed parent sent by e-mail
  • Organized excursion for upper year level defence students, when suitable 
While results show ongoing needs with some groups, intervention and support programs have led to improved individual standards if the students remain at the school with a supported network for a sufficient period of time.  

Why do we have DSM's in school? 
 
Defence School Mentors are positioned in schools across Australia to provide support to the children of mobile families. Sometimes children have difficulties making new friends, understanding and adjusting to the different routines and ways in the new school. The DSM will liase with the children and family to become part of the school community more quickly. They will answer questions from families about the school and can link families with the support organizations to provide appropriate assistance.  

What does a DSM do? 
 
A DSM position is funded by defence but are employed by the local state or tertiary department of education. Like a teacher’s aide but they are employed to assist families as they relocate to a new school. The aide’s activities include: 
 
  • Assisting children and families to integrate into the new school and local community
  • Coordinating Welcome and Farewell activities for relocating families
  • Monitoring the social, emotional and academic wellbeing of defence students
  • Helping students develop self-confidence, self-reliance and resilience
  • Directing students to programs, services or opportunities that suit their needs
  • Enhancing awareness and appreciation of the unique defence lifestyle in schools and communities
  • Providing support to children/ families during times of parental absence due to deployment, training and courses
  • Be a point of contact for defence families in new school 

For more information on the Defence School Transition Aide Program and support programs for children of ADF families in the school, please contact Correna (DSTA) through the school office on (07) 4799 1333 Monday to Friday 8:00am-4:00pm or via e-mail cwhee36@eq.edu.au
 

Defence Community Organisation

 
The Defence Community Organisation (DCO) works closely with the DSM and other school staff to assist defence families in the Townsville area. DCO provides a range of professional services for defence members and their families. For further information, call: DCO Defence Family Helpline 1800 624 608 This service is available 24 hours.