female air force officer mentoring a student in defence support mentor program

Defence Transition

Defence Support Mentor Program

As a defence family, you live a lifestyle of mobility and change. You move locations regularly and you have to be intentional about ensuring your children’s education and wellbeing.

Medowie Christian School recognises that the defence lifestyle has a unique effect on defence families - both parents and children.

To enable MCS to support the needs of defence families, the School has secured funding through the Department of Defence for the Defence Support Mentor Program. The role of the Defence Support Mentor is to support the social and emotional wellbeing of students of ADF families.

Our Defence Support Mentor (DSM) will welcome your children into our school, make sure they’re connected to their peers, support them during times of parental training and deployment as well as assist in the transitioning to a new school when posting time arrives.

We welcome parent involvement and our DSM will work with you in order to know and understand your child’s individual needs. If you have any questions about the Defence Support Mentor Program or if you’d like to organise a meeting, please contact Vanessa Cork, our Defence Support Mentor.

vanessa cork smiling

Vanessa Cork

Defence Support Mentor

Vanessa loves working with all Defence students from Prep to Year 12, providing social and emotional support. Vanessa provides support during periods of parental deployment absences and upcoming relocations


This program was implemented by the Department of Defence, through the Defence Family Member Support (DFMS) as a commitment to support its members and their families. DMFS recognises that Defence families often turn to schools for help when mobility affects education through frequent moves, long periods of separation, isolation from extended family support networks and operational deployments.

To minimise the impact of the Defence lifestyle on children’s education, DMFS provides funding to schools with significant Defence student enrolments.

DSMs work to minimise the impact of mobility on education and build the capability of the School in supporting Defence students and their families.

DSMs are based within primary and secondary schools across Australia for the purpose of providing support to the children of Defence families through on-site, direct and flexible assistance to students, parents, teachers and other support services.

A Defence Support Mentor provides assistance to students and their families. This may include:

  • Assisting new students and their families to integrate into the school and local community.
  • Monitoring the social and emotional wellbeing of Defence students.
  • Assisting students to develop self-confidence, self-reliance and resilience.
  • Referring students to services or school and community programs that meet their needs.
  • Enhancing awareness and appreciation of the unique Defence lifestyle in schools and communities.
  • Providing support to children during times of parental absence.
  • Developing and implementing programs and resources that address issues and needs.

If an ADF member moves to a new location and has school-aged children, they may be entitled to 14 weeks of tutoring in any subject that has been identified by the School as representing a gap in the child’s learning. Generally this is only available within 18 months of your relocation date, so if you think your child could use some extra support please contact Vanessa Cork as soon as possible. Paperwork will need to be completed and authenticated by the School prior to submission.

School support is an important part of the services provided by the Defence Support Mentor, including an exit procedure for your child to facilitate their smooth transition to their new school. Notification needs to be provided in writing and include the contact details of the new school or tertiary institution.

Funded byaustralian defence logo

Amy Willis

"We have been at the school since 2017, I have 2 children that attend MCS. The support we have received while being part of the school community and a Defence family has always been amazing. My kids are looked after and supported every time their dad deploys. I make their teachers and the Defence mentor staff aware when their dad is away, it never matters how long his trips are. They have nurtured my kids through the tough days and the good days. Their support doesn’t just stop with my kids they also check in with me to see how we are coping as a family and always happy for a cuppa and a chat."

Julia Creggan

"Since arriving from the UK Medowie Christian School has been a fantastic support to our family. Not only does the school provide an excellent education which values each student as an individual, the school is also a beautiful Christ centered community. All three of my children have grown in confidence since attending and love going to school each day. The school has a great defence mentor, that supports not just the children but the whole family especially through times of resettlement and deployment, which really was great especially when we first arrived . For us as parents Medowie Christian School has it all, a great education, sporting opportunities, caring staff and a campus which provides learning opportunities for children from prep right through to high school, we couldn't ask for more."

Catheryn Kelly

"Best decision we could have made!!!
Our family transferred our year 7 son to MCS in late 2021 as the we found local public high school to be unsuitable. As an anxious child he has made such a remarkable transition. It is an inviting, calm supportive and happy school that has really welcomed us in. Also as a ADF family I highly recommend MCS’s Defence Support Mentor as she is second to none!! My son has made lovely friends so easily and the extra support from the learning support staff is above and beyond!"