More children of Australian veterans and Defence personnel will receive additional support thanks to a new $13.7 million investment in the successful Kookaburra Kids ‘Defence Kids’ mental health program.
This new investment comes as Kookaburra Kids celebrates its 20th year of providing services. It builds on the Government’s investment of $2.1 million for a pilot of the Defence Kids program in 2016 and $7.7 million to expand the program in 2018.
The additional funding will see the program expanded to more regional areas: Wagga Wagga, Albury/Wodonga, the Mornington Peninsula, Bendigo, Ballarat, and Geelong.
For the first time, services will also be available for children in north and south Tasmania.
The Prime Minister said the Defence Kids program was making a massive difference to the lives of children of Defence families, and the funding would ensure it could reach even more kids and families.
“Being a kid can be tough enough, and there can be added challenges for kids from Defence and veteran families,” the Prime Minister said.
“Often, our Defence kids have to move away from friends, they change schools and they deal with a parent being away for extended periods of time or who may be facing mental health challenges.
“The Kookaburra Kids Defence Kids program helps kids to manage these challenges, and brings them together with others facing similar experiences.
“We want to give our Defence kids as much support as possible, and give our veterans and Defence members the confidence that their families are well looked after. The extension of this program will ensure just that.
“I also congratulate Kookaburra Kids on their 20th anniversary. From their start in the Shire, to now reaching out across the nation to help thousands more kids, it’s truly great work.”
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee said the additional funding would grow the program across the regions and provide access to even more kids.
“The Kookaburra Kids program has already had more than 4,300 engagements with children in the Defence and veteran community, and this significant additional investment will see more children reap the benefits,” Minister Gee said.
“Kids aged 8-18 years old can get involved by attending camps and activity days where they develop coping skills and resilience, building up their mental health while understanding their unique experience.
“The program delivers tailored, evidence-based, age-appropriate education, prevention and early intervention mental health services.
“Prevention is key in supporting our Defence kids and providing them with the help they need to thrive. I’m extremely supportive of anything that supports our Defence families.”
The funding will also see face-to-face services continue in all mainland capital cities as well as the regional centres of Townsville, the Hunter, Wollongong, Shoalhaven and the NSW South Coast.
To find out more about the Kookaburra Kids ‘Defence Kids’ program visit: https://kookaburrakids.org.au/our-programs/defence-kids-activities/