National Families Week: Nicole Rowley’s Story

Nicole Rowley is a proud Defence partner who has supported her husband throughout his Air Force journey
Nicole Rowley is a proud Defence partner and who has supported her husband throughout his Air Force journey in the past 12.5 years.
 
Moving around every few years and being away from family and friends has not been easy for Nicole, but luckily, she was able to tap into various Defence support groups and build a strong network in Wagga Wagga.
 
“Simon and I are originally from Barossa Valley, South Australia," Nicole, mother of two said.
 
"Simon joined the Air Force 12.5 years ago and has been posted to Wagga, Adelaide and then back to Wagga.”
 
“I have supported my husband through the recruiting process, recruit training, training at the RAAF School of Technical Training and various deployments.”
 
“We have been in Wagga for around 18 months for this posting.”
 
Nicole found it relatively easy to find work within the Wagga area, however she said living in a remote location did make her feel lonely sometimes.
 
“Fortunately, the local DCO network has been a great assistance, they always offer a great support in helping people meet new partners and link people to services in Wagga Wagga.”
 
“I regularly attend Coffee Connections and many of the family events they put on.
 
“Wagga Wagga also has The RAAF, Army, Navy Community House (The RANCH) and Kapooka Neighbourhood House that are fantastic support to new partners and their families.
 
“I am the Vice President/Public Officer of The RANCH. We hold weekly morning teas, playtime and fitness classes; as well as monthly dinners and kids activities.”
 
Mrs Rowley said being a Defence partner is a very different lifestyle to get used to, but fortunately many Defence partners are keen to support each other.
 
“No one else will truly understand what you are going through other than other Defence partners, and because of this they are a great support network to lean on.
 
“Most military posting locations have local Facebook pages specifically for Defence families that are a wealth of knowledge.
 
“I ran into a Defence partner that I haven’t seen in 10 years over ANZAC day and it was like no time has passed- you will have friends in every state eventually.”
 
Nicole suggested for Defence partners to build a strong network as quickly as possible so they can settle into the local area, saying that many partners ended up enjoying the local networks so much that they did not want to leave at the end of the posting.
 
Helen Marshall, the Family Liaison Officer at DCO Wagga said DCO offered a range of programs and services to help ADF families to manage the military way of life.
 
“DCO services include a 24-hour Defence Family Helpline, social worker support, assistance with partner employment, facilitating access to childcare, assistance for dependants with special needs, support for Defence community groups, help for families during crisis and emergency, education support for children and assistance for members transitioning from the permanent ADF," Helend said.
 
“DCO have offices in all states and territories, which offer a wide range of services and programs to help families manage posting and relocation, and absences from home due to Service reasons.
 
“Families can contact the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608, or defencefamilyhelpline [at] defence.gov.au, or visit the DCO website, www.defence.gov.au/dco for more information. Families can also follow DCO on social media to keep up-to-date with DCO events and activities.”