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Defence School Transition Aide



The school is fortunate to have Defence School Transition Aide (DSTA) 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. It is not intended that the DSTA 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 DSTA 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 


  • Kidsmart Relocation Program
  • Kidsmart Deployment Program
  • Kids Club
  • Anzac and Remembrance Day Ceremony
  • Art for Anzac Day Competition
  • Colouring- In Competitions for Prep-Year 2 and Year 3-6
  • Paper Plane Challenge
  • 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 L Pod
  • 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 DSTAs in school? 


Defence in-school aides 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 DSTA will assist the children and family 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 DSTA do? 


A DSTA 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 

Kids’ Club 


Kids’ Club is for children of ADF families who attend our school. Kids’ Club is held each Monday at first break for children in Prep to Year 3, and Tuesdays at first break for students in Years 4 to 7. There are many activities organized during this session such as craft activities, board games, colouring in sheets or just chat with a friend. The aim is to assist children of Defence families’ smooth transition into the school by providing a place to meet with other defence children, the DSTA, and other members of the school community. Students are welcome to bring a friend with them to Kid’s Club.  


Defence Morning Tea  


Twice a term, the DSTA organize a Defence Morning Tea for ADF families at the school. The morning teas are a time to meet other defence families. Guest speakers may include both school and Defence Community Organisation staff as well as representatives of the wider community. Defence Morning Teas are advertised in the school newsletter and on the Defence noticeboard in the Junior Covered Play Area (near A and B Pods) and in the office. Families are also notified by letter through their children. 


Defence Community Organisation


The Defence Community Organisation (DCO) works closely with the DSTA 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 all hours  

Welcomes and Farewells   


To assist new students of ADF families settle into the new school the DSTA delivers a Welcome Pack during an informal talk with the new students. A “Buddy” can also be arranged for the new student. Then a week or 2 later a follow up chat with student to make sure any concerns can be addressed. The DSTA may work with the students during class time in their own class setting, thus helping the student to stay on top of a possibly different state curriculum from what the child has experience in the past. When children of defence families are posted to a new location a Farewell Pack is distributed to each student. Farewell Pack includes a calico signature bear for students to have their friends and teachers sign. A Special Momento which is loved by all students so they can always remember their friends and teachers. A booklet which includes a message from their teacher and classmates, a school posting passport with photo and school stamp, The Do’s and Don’ts of Starting a New School pamphlets. A Friendship Book for Kids on the Move is also distributed and discussed in groups to assist in the transition to a new school.  


Tutoring: Education Assistance Scheme  


Defence families can arrange financial support to help minimize the disruption to a family member’s schooling caused by posting and relocation. Some of the services offered are Tutoring, Boarding school allowance, Tertiary accommodation, Special needs support, Reimbursement of a lost scholarship, Reunion travel and Education assistance. For more information, guidelines and the application forms for these services visit the DCO website  


Students may be entitled to up to 14 weeks of tutoring in any subject that has been identified by the school as representing a gap in learning. This applies to primary and high school students within the first 18 months of enrolment at a new school in a new posting.  


Deployment and Exercises  


Defence family members who may be deployed or on exercise/training are asked to inform the DSTA and their child’s teacher. This time can be very traumatic and am emotional rollercoaster for students. With this information the DSTA and school network can work together to best support your child during a potentially stressful time. Every child may react differently when this situation arises so it is best to closely monitor any changes you see and pass this onto the teacher. The DSTA will organize activities, Treasure Box to make and take home for child. Many resources and crafts are arranged for student to post to deployed parent. All of these have been created to suit the child’s needs. Regular visits to class can also be arranged to check-in on child’s well-being. When the school is well informed we can all work together to support the child.  


For more information on the Defence School Transition Aide 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-3:00pm or via e-mail