Being in the Air Force is a unique experience, not only for those in uniform but also for their families.
The military lifestyle brings a range of opportunities and challenges, like spending time apart on deployment, exercises or training.
Support for Air Force families is just as important, so members can build a career in the Air Force and do what they do best.
Fostering a strong community in remote locations like RAAF Tindal is an important part of family support.
Debbie Marshall, Defence Community Organisation (DCO) Family Liaison Officer (FLO) at RAAF Tindal plays an important role supporting and engaging with Tindal families.
In this role she is responsible for organising a range of events for families of all shapes and sizes, connecting them with the local community and each other.
“Being posted to a remote location like Tindal can have its challenges and some families can find it quite isolating, being so far away from family and friends,” Debbie said.
“It’s in locations like Tindal where a strong community network becomes so important.
"The majority of personnel working at Tindal live in Defence service residences on the ‘married patch’, service residences in Katherine or within Living In Accommodation.
“Many have commented that the environment at Tindal reminds them of the RAAF of yesteryear, where everyone knows each other and, if you drive around in the afternoons, all the school kids are playing together throughout the neighbourhood.
“Just like any other base, there are many different family demographics here at Tindal.
"I organise social events for the members and families at Tindal, whether it’s those with young kids or teenagers, older couples, same-sex couples, and single members too.
“I have followed my husband’s Air Force career around the country, and this is our ninth posting location and third posting to Tindal, so I have a good understanding of military life.
"I first came to Tindal with young kids, then teenagers and now funnily enough my son is posted here with our grandkids.
“Tindal is remote, but it is this remoteness which has forged us into such a special and tight-knit community.
"I have many families say to me that it is much easier for them when their partner deploys from Tindal and that they would not have coped as well if they were at any other base.
“Our local DCO team works closely with the Squadrons on base and provide support to families of deployed members, and we offer a range of activities, including dedicated ‘absent from home’ events which include networking dinners, coffee catch ups and craft events.
“We have a lot of fun with our art activities and a highlight is inviting families to make ‘welcome home ‘signs for their loved ones returning from deployment.
“It is great to see the excitement on both little and big kids faces.
"These events have a relaxed and inviting atmosphere allowing families to meet new people and make connections.
"It is great to work in such a supportive and engaged community environment, seeing members and their families making the most of what the local area has to offer,” she said.
DCO offers a wide range of programs and support services to help Air Force families manage the military way of life.
DCO has offices across Australia, providing support to families even in some of the most remote locations.
DCO services include a 24-hour Defence Family Helpline, social worker support, assistance with partner employment, support with posting and relocation, 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.