A group of excited children received the latest medallion recognising their resilience and challenges they experience through having parents in the ADF.
CAPTION: The Gibbins family, including, Tommy, 8, Johnny, 5, Betty, 3, and dad Stephen enjoy the activities on display at the Defence member and family support Child of the ADF medallion event at RAAF Base Williamtown, NSW. Story by Corporal Melina Young. Photo by Sergeant Craig Barrett.
Families gathered for the inaugural event at RAAF Base Williamtown, where the base’s Senior Australian Defence Force officer, Group Captain Anthony Stainton, presented ‘The Child of the ADF’ medallion on July 11.
Sergeant Mick Dellaca from 26 Squadron attended with his family and said he’s been away from home more than 10 times since having children.
His 8-year-old son Harry was one of those receiving the medal.
“It’s because of all the work I do at home helping mum when Dad is away,” Harry said.
“It feels good and really special to have this medal because it’s hard when Dad isn’t home.”
Sergeant Dellaca said it’s great children get recognition for their sacrifices.
“I do get sent away often, and at very short notice, and the kids don’t really get any time to think about it,” Sergeant Dellaca said
“It will be very special on Anzac and Remembrance days to see all the children proudly wearing their medals alongside serving parents.”
Sergeant Dellaca’s 6-year-old daughter Grace said she will place her medal next to her gymnastics and ballet ribbons.
The event was organised by Defence Member and Family Support (DMFS), showcasing base assets and capabilities.
Children also got to sit behind the wheel of a fire truck, a quad bike, donned body armour the same weight as them, and bounced surgical hand glove balloons inside an ambulance.
Flight Lieutenant Nadine Gallaway, a military support officer at DMFS, believes families are the backbone for Defence members.
“We can’t do what we do without them,” Flight Lieutenant Gallaway said.
“We often talk about the family being the spouse or partner of the defence member who needs to hold it all in, but we forget that children also have their lives turned upside down when mum or dad goes away.”
Chaplain Stephen Gibbins also attended the event with his wife and four children.
His eldest son, Tommy, has experienced three posting in his eight years of life.
“There’s many challenges along the way – the children have to say goodbye to their best mates, move away from family support, change schools, make new friends,” Chaplain Gibbins said.
“Whenever there is a DMFS event on, my wife and I always take the opportunity to remind the kids why they are doing something special.
“We tell them it’s because we are a Defence family, it becomes part of our language, and they understand how special it is to receive this medal.”
The medallion has three colours on the ribbon – black and orange that represents DMFS, and purple representing the tri-service ADF.
CAPTION: Eight-year-old Tommy proudly displays his Child of the ADF Medallion presented to him during the Defence Member and Family Support event at RAAF Base Williamtown, NSW. Photo by Sergeant Craig Barrett.