Medical downgrade has been a feature 3 times in 7 years for us. The first time we were still MWD(U) unrecognised and it resulted in my sudden relocation inside a matter of half a day. The most recent medical downgrade I learnt things about in home support services we both should have been informed about the first time – six years earlier! In fact, my husband should have learnt about it 10 years earlier at the time of his first injury that placed him on crutches.
What had come to be the case in the recent medical downgrades was that I was informing my husband about processes and entitlements as a result of my research, which I had far more time to do than he due to tempo. That’s why I began the Defence Partner & Carers Support Group; to empower, support and educate Partners during the partner carer, medical downgrade or transition journey.
I also wanted to create a safe space to encourage and allow the partner community to harness the power of their shared experience and to advocate for better outcomes for ourselves, our families and our community.
In November 2022, in partnership with Veterans SA and THP, the very first Australian Defence and Veteran Partner Carer Roundtable (DVPRC) was held. More on that below.
Support and Community
When your Defence Member or Veteran is injured physically or mentally, medically downgraded or transitioning, it is a difficult time to navigate and process.
Simple, easy to understand and use checklists and processes to navigate medical downgrade or to plan for transition.
Calls, workshops and events to highlight supports and processes, to better inform and educate both service member and Partner.
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Australia’s First Defence and Veteran Carer Roundtable a huge success
Defence and Veteran Carers, State Government and support organisations came together recently to connect, share stories of lived experience and knowledge at Australia’s first Defence and Veteran Partner Carer Roundtable (DVPCR).
Facilitated by The Home Post in partnership with Veterans SA, the DVPC Roundtable provided partner carers with a platform to empower each other and acknowledge the vital role they play as well as share their experiences and challenges with service providers.
“Partner Carers are often overlooked but they too need support and services,” says Julia Michel.
Various community members and stakeholders were in attendance including Veterans SA, The Legacy Club of SA and Broken Hill, Australian War Widows (SA), the Partners of Veterans Association, Defence Kidz, Carers SA and several current Partner Carers, all of whom were open to engaging in an open dialogue and learning from those in need of support and services.
QUOTE HERE FROM JULIA MICHEL, Founder of The Home Post: “I know from my own lived experience that there is much work to be done to support Partners who become carers as a result of medical procedures, medical downgrades or discharges, and transition from the ADF, so it was great to see that the organisations in attendance were open to hearing what our journey is like.”
“Now we can all work together to ensure funding and programs for Partner Carers are provided in the future”.
From the roundtable, 5 key topics and challenges emerged for our Defence and Veteran Partner Carers, which are:
- Recognition and validation of the unique Partner Carer identity, including as a cohort in its own right with regard to advocacy;
- Awareness and education of supports for current serving families during medical downgrade, or periods of injury/illness;
- Access and eligibility of injured, downgraded or transitioning Defence Members regarding existing support services, in particular in-home services;
- Inclusion and integration of partners in any education, including about support services, medical downgrade or discharge processes, superannuation and Department for Veterans’ Affairs schemes; and
- Existence and development of genuine and tangible Partner Carer support services and networks to provide them with supports and/or respite.
Plans for further local and national roundtables are already on the cards.
QUOTE HERE FROM Ms Chantelle Bohan, Director, VETERANS SA:
“By facilitating open conversations such as these, we are helping to connect Defence and veteran partner carers with support organisations who can provide the vital services needed to ensure the wellbeing of those who support our current and former serving ADF members.”
Following on from this roundtable, the Home Post’s Julia will develop resources, partnerships and programs for Defence and Veteran Partner Carers and communities.
“If there is one passion my lived Defence Partner experience has given me it is to INFORM, EQUIP and EMPOWER Defence and Veteran families one checklist, plan and resource at a time.”
I founded The Home Post to build a community and to create support resources. The roundtable was further confirmation that creating the first ever checklist system to support Defence families across the full life cycle of military life is something that is in desperate need and would help families greatly.”
The Home Post is an online resource and support hub developed to address the uncertainty and overwhelm of Defence life for partner carers.
The resources have been uniquely created based on over a decade of lived Defence Partner and Veteran Carer experience.
For more information about The Home Post or the Defence and Veteran Partner Carer Roundtables, please subscribe to the newsletter or contact me.