Dealing with the news and the initial stage

Initial news 

Someone from Defence will get in touch to give families the news in person (wherever possible). Then there will be a media release on what has happened.

During this time, the defence personnel who delivered the news are often situated in the family home for a few days. Normally the Prime Minister calls among other distinguished personnel within the spouse’s defence service.

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The defence personnel in the house normally take over the phone so that they can field the calls and this may be challenging at this difficult time. This is for two reasons, so that:

  1. Defence can support grieving families, and
  2. Defence can protect families from the media storm and help them respond in their time of grief.

The Defence Member and Family Support (DMFS, formerly DCO) will be heavily involved at this early stage.

The funeral

The funeral is organised and paid for by Defence.

From the funeral, the Defence Member and Family Support (DMFS, formerly DCO) steps out and the Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA) steps in. MRCA is the legislation that governs how financial aid is distributed. 

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Support for the initial stages 

Having someone with the family in this initial stage will be really important to organise. e.g. extended family or friends. That can take time for them to get there, so it may help to have someone who is local at first, who can provide immediate support until others arrive. During this time, there is often service personnel who worked with the spouse and contact the family to offer their condolences and support.


Legacy-Supporting our veterans' families since 1923.

An immediate referral to Legacy occurs and then someone from Legacy will be in touch. Legacy stays with the spouse for life, and with the child until they finish their education.

Legacy can support the whole family. Families and individuals can self-refer or be referred by the unit or Defence Member and Family Support (DMFS, formerly DCO). They can assist families where they have given their health or mental health in service.

Many families wish they had gotten involved with Legacy much sooner. Legacy can support through:

  • case management
  • education of the children
  • holidays and accommodation
  • camps for children,
  • emotional support, and
  • the social support of others.

In this video, the Chair of Sydney Legacy talks about her role in supporting families.

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Last modified: Friday, 6 May 2022, 7:47 PM