Defence Family Research Project

Defence Family Research Project


The Defence Family Research Project is the largest ever study of Queensland Defence personnel and their families. RSL Queensland commissioned the research to better understand who the Defence Family in Queensland are, and what key needs and challenges they face.

Key Findings
Life in the Defence Family is not easy, and experiences had at this time can have a life-long impact. Service has a profound effect on both the member themselves and their immediate family. Quality of life in particular is significantly lower compared to the general population (rated 6.7 compared to 7.6 out of 10). To mitigate this impact, four key needs areas should be addressed:

  • Employment – unemployment is high among those transitioning out of the ADF (33% compared to 4% of general population) and 61% of spouses of current serving personnel are struggling to gain meaningful employment.
  • Health – 63% have at least one medical or physical health condition and 42% have a mental health condition or need mental health support.
  • Finances – 41% see finances as a key challenge in their life. Income drops significantly after transitioning out.
  • Relationships – 18% are struggling with personal relationships and 34% of those with children say that they need family counselling.

Building on the above specific needs, there are two groups that are more likely to have these issues: those transitioning out of Defence, and families. Defence Members who are transitioning out are the most vulnerable, as this is a time of radical change for both Defence members and their families, while Defence families with children are coping with added pressures and need additional support.

Where to from here
This research is the first step toward creating a better future for our current and ex-serving personnel and their families. If connections are made with Defence members earlier in their journey, work can be done to mitigate risk factors and improve quality of life.

RSL Queensland will use these findings to shape our strategic direction. With the knowledge gained from this research, efforts can be targeted and tailored to more effectively meet needs and work towards support that empowers. The results will also enable RSL Queensland to advocate effectively on behalf of the Defence Family to address the areas of greatest need in this community.