Navy trials free childcare and partner mentoring

Department of Defence

A six-week trial provided Navy families with professional mentoring for three hours a week and free childcare at the same location.

From February to March, 15 Navy partners and their children completed the co-located education and childcare trial with ‘Cowork Coplay’ in Rockingham, WA.

Rebecca Mangano was one of the trial participants. Her husband is a submariner and she recently moved to WA from Canberra to support his career in Navy.

Since having children, she decided on a career change to work around life as a mum.

“Over the last six weeks it’s been awesome to work on my resume and apply for a few internships while my boys are in care next door,” Mrs Mangano said.

‘Without our families we can’t do our jobs. Our families are just as important as our members.’

The trial assessed the appetite for the provision of training courses and associated care for Navy families where they are based.

An added benefit to the trial was the social connection opportunities for each of the Navy partners, many of whom had just posted to WA.

Parehuria Reweti’s partner is a new recruit, and HMAS Stirling is their first posting.

“I’ve made some really good connections with the other Navy wives; even my daughters made friends with the other Navy kids. We feel like we have a community now,” Miss Reweti said.

The initiative was created as part of Navy’s Stay On Board – People First retention campaign, which was developed to reshape careers and extend the service of Navy people.

From pay and financial benefits to personal development opportunities, the campaign’s six lines of effort and more than 90 initiatives aim to benefit every Navy member.

Command Warrant Officer – Navy People Warrant Officer William McConnell said every initiative within the campaign was the result of feedback from Navy people.

“We [leaders] don’t own these initiatives; they come from our sailors and officers,” he said.

In 2023, the retention campaign established a dedicated line of effort to support families, as a result of feedback from Navy people indicating that support from families was vital to ensure their continued service.

‘I’ve made some really good connections … we feel like we have a community now.’

Director General Navy People Commodore Tish Van Stralen strongly advocates for families.

“Without our families we can’t do our jobs. Our families are just as important as our members,” Commodore Stralen said.

Other family initiatives being implemented under the Stay On Board – People First campaign include limiting the time partners spend away from home, improving internet connectivity at sea and increasing family support when ships are at sea.

The campaign also created a go-to resource titled Navy Families Handbook, which includes a comprehensive guide of useful contacts and information to ensure families understand what resources are available to them.

“It’s been really good to hear about all the support available to Navy partners. I really had no idea that there is so much support available,” Mrs Mangano said.

An additional series of family initiatives are on the horizon to expand the wellbeing line of effort for families – namely, deployment support and official welcome packs for new families to ensure a holistic support system is established.

With command-led discussions commencing in May, Navy will ensure the campaign’s third year of operation continues to meet the needs of Navy people and their families.

The significance and importance of improving support offered to Navy families was recognised by Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mark Hammond.

“Our power at sea is derived from our family’s strength at home,” he said.

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