PhD student invites ADF to respond to survey about family life post deployment
The Sector > Research > PhD student invites ADF to respond to survey about family life post deployment

PhD student invites ADF to respond to survey about family life post deployment

by Freya Lucas

July 19, 2021

PhD candidate Alixandra Risi is seeking input from members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) about their experiences of returning to family life following a period of deployment, something which is often challenging for those with young children. 


With approximately 29,000 members of the ADF having dependent children, ensuring that deployment does not negatively impact parent-child relationships is an issue that demands attention not only from the research sector, but also from early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals. 


Ms Risi is undertaking her PhD in Clinical Psychology with the School of Psychology at the University of Wollongong (UOW), and has chosen to investigate the post-deployment experiences of military families because research into the subject is limited and mostly focused within the American context.


“The small body of research available highlights that military families with young children face unique psychological and relational challenges during the post-deployment period,” she said.


“We need to better understand the post-deployment experiences of ADF families, not only to close the gap in our understanding of the military family experience, but also to directly inform interventions that can improve outcomes for ADF families.”


Some of the changes that can occur in the family structure during deployment include a shift in the relationship between the deployed family member and the caregiver who remains at home, and difficulties in the relationship between the deployed family member and their children – both in terms of managing behaviour and connecting in positive ways.


“Many military families internationally have said that returning home, and re-entering civilian and family life, can be incredibly challenging and difficult to navigate,” Ms Risi explained.


Current ADF members have been invited to participate in the research, with a particular call to those members who have a child aged between birth and five years of age and who have been deployed during their child’s lifetime, as well as caregivers, who may also be members of the ADF, who have remained at home while their partner has been deployed.


The respondents will take part in an online survey that will take approximately 60 minutes, and Ms Risi hopes that, by those members sharing their firsthand experiences, military families will help researchers to gain valuable insights into the impact of deployment on the family unit in Australia.


“The research will capture the impact of reintegration on parent-child relationships; parental mental health; parenting stress; and child emotions and behaviours. Our findings will inform the development of parenting interventions for children under five years of age, with the aim of mitigating this impact,” she added. 


For more information phone the Early Start research number – 02 4221 8176.

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