Defence Families

Catholic Education Canberra Goulburn offers specialist help to students from families in the Australian Defence Force.

We have a large community of Defence families and students who are supported by our Defence School Mentors (DSMs).

Defence School Mentors work across our primary and secondary schools in the ACT and at St Gregory’s Primary School in Queanbeyan in NSW to support and monitor the social, emotional, and academic wellbeing of our Defence students. Defence School Mentors liaise with families, teaching staff and our student wellbeing team to help with the challenges faced by Defence families. They can also help Defence families that are moving to the ACT to enrol a child in one of our Catholic schools.

The mentors are funded by the Department of Defence through the Defence Members and Family Support Branch and employed as a member of the school staff.

Our Defence School Mentors work closely with Defence students to help them connect within the school community and support them in social wellbeing, school transition, integration, academic outcomes, and personalised tutoring. Our mentors can also provide family access points for support for those new to Canberra.

Our mentors organise events and activity groups for Defence students throughout the school terms.

These include:

  • Defence clubs within schools
  • Regular morning teas and lunches
  • Remembrance and commemorative activities and ceremonies
  • Excursions with other Defence students from different schools including outdoor camps.
  • Specialist incursion days where guest speakers provide life stories and life strategies on working through feelings and overcoming adversity.

Enrolling your child in one of our schools

Defence School Mentors can be the first point of contact for Defence families that are moving to Canberra. The mentors will listen to what you are looking for in a school. They can put you in touch with the school principal who will help you understand our evidence-based teaching and learning, the religious education, and all the other opportunities that a Catholic school offers your child. They can walk you through the enrolment process and ease the pressure of finding the right school for your child.

Integration and settling in

Transitioning into a new school can be stressful for some students.  Not knowing anyone, and having to make new friends, and adjusting to a different educational system can be stressful.  Our Defence School Mentors work with your child to feel valued as an important member of the school community and develop friendships and support networks as quickly as possible.

Support during parental absence and deployment 

Family separation affects all members of the family. Defence students often enjoy and benefit from joining weekly Defence clubs and catch ups when they have a family member away. Usually, other students are experiencing the same situation and it reminds them additional support is available and they are not alone.

Connect with our mentors to let them know if your family has a serving member about to leave, is away, or an impending return. Our mentors will contact your child’s teachers to let them know so that additional support is available.


Our Defence School Mentors provide opportunities for extra tutoring. They can also provide advice and support through the engagement of professional tutoring as part of a new posting. Our mentors provide information on educational allowances provided by the Department of Defence, should your child require extra tuition.

Counselling and mentoring support

Counselling and mentoring support, be it academic or social is available for Defence students with parent support, students can be referred to professional counselling either at school, or as part of the broader Defence support network.

Posting out

While some children and young adults adapt well and see moving as an adventure, others need extra encouragement and positive thinking strategies. Our Defence School Mentors works with students who are posting out of Canberra to farewell their current friends and talk through preparing for their new school.

Contact our Defence School Mentors

Primary Schools Defence School Mentor Contact
Good Shepherd Primary School, Amaroo Taryn Ahern (02) 6255 7888
Holy Spirit Primary School, Nicholls Zonika Smith (02) 6241 8640
Mother Teresa School, Harrison Carly Flemington (02) 6241 5604
St Gregory’s Primary School, Queanbeyan Michelle Smith (02) 6297 1396
Secondary Colleges Defence School Mentor Contact
Merici College, Braddon Kate Friend (02) 6243 4190
St John Paul II College, Nicholls Zonika Smith (02) 6163 4800
St Clare’s College, Griffith Alice Coleman (02) 6260 9421
St Mary MacKillop College, Tuggeranong Justin Kain (02) 6209 0100