Being a part of Cowork Coplay in Adelaide has been truly life-changing for me. It’s given me a real sense of belonging in the defence community.
South Australia’s pilot of the Cowork Coplay program has been heralded a success after delivering outstanding results for participants.
The pilot program officially concluded on March 30 at an event that celebrated the successes achieved by those who took part, which included three participants securing ongoing employment.
A group of nine Adelaide-based Defence partners participated in the 6-week program that ran during February and March.
The program is designed to address three core challenges for ADF partners with small children:
- lack of time to pursue career development and meaningful work, often leading to associated feelings of disempowerment and lack of control over their work options
- limited access to flexible, affordable child care
- isolation or disconnection from community and family support, often due to frequent postings.
An initiative developed by Canberra-based Defence spouse, Claire Harris, the Cowork Coplay Adelaide pilot delivered by Veterans SA offered participants the opportunity to pursue career projects, study, apply for work and participate in workshops while their small children were cared for onsite.
By providing time to work and connect meaningfully with others, the program amplified career and work aspirations and facilitated self-growth. For some participants, the program helped to secure employment, achieve outstanding university results and complete work projects.
Joining the program after arriving in South Australia with her family in early 2023, defence spouse Elise Knight said the benefits of taking part in the program had been immeasurable.
“Being a part of Cowork Coplay in Adelaide has been truly life-changing for me,” she said. “It’s given me a real sense of belonging in the defence community.”
“I’ve been able to connect with other spouses that just ‘get it’ and it’s been so wonderful to see other spouses kicking goals like securing new employment or completing study.”
Evaluation of the pilot and participant feedback has highlighted that it was a highly valuable program with all participants expressing that they would recommend Cowork Coplay to others.
The key benefits identified by the participants include:
- time and space to pursue career-related projects while were children cared for nearby
- feeling more connected to the community and making friends with people in the group
- increased feelings of empowerment, happiness, joy, clarity and direction, purpose and feeling supported
- improved confidence in career and work opportunities
- access to career and employment support and information from organisations and mentors who were specifically chosen based on the group’s needs
- overcoming feelings of overwhelm, isolation, stress.
The participants reported they gained a lot personally from the program, from increased confidence and feeling happier to achieving professional goals and because they experienced improved wellbeing, their families benefited as well.
The pilot also enabled Veterans SA and other stakeholders, including local government, employment brokers and wellbeing practitioners, to learn from participants about their lives as Defence partners and their strengths, needs and challenges.
Feedback collected throughout the program and the evaluation process will now be used by Veterans SA to plan future activities and programs to better meet the needs of Defence families. The information will also be used to educate other ex-service organisations and the wider community about the unique nature of service and its effect on families.
Learn more about the Cowork Coplay program here.
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Image: Photo of Veterans SA staff with some of the program participants, taken at the morning tea held on the last day of the program