I met my husband in my home town in the UK in August 2003, it seems like a lifetime ago now. A few months after we had been together he told me his plans for the future. After his service with the British Armed Forces, he wanted to move to Australia and join the Australian Defence Force.
Fast forward to 2013 and that’s what we did! After our wedding in 2005, 2 children in 2005 and 2008, he sent off his expression of interest to join up for the 2ndtime in his life, this time in a different country. Eek!
Once the application was submitted we had our interviews in 2013 and finally, just before Christmas that year, we received the all email offering him a job. It was the start of an exciting and life-changing time for us. We threw ourselves into it with excitement, enthusiasm and a little apprehension. Leaving everything we knew and held dear in the UK forever.
Fast forward to August 2014 and our belongings were packed up into a shipping container, ready to take the 3 month trip by sea to Brisbane. This left us with a couple of months to say goodbye to family and friends, many who we knew will probably not see again in person.
Before we left, my husband and about a dozen others travelled to Australia House to sign on with the Australian Defence Force. Then, with flights booked, our belongings on their way and the necessary paperwork in place, our plane left on 1stOctober 2014. We finally arrived into Brisbane on the 5th
October 2014 ready to start our new life.
It was extremely over-whelming as we had so much to arrange in a short space of time. We had faced similar situations and were used to adapting to new situations quickly as we had moves every two years whilst my husband was in the British Military. However, we realised quite quickly that things were very different over in Australia.
The most important thing was the need to sort schools for the boys. Schools had to be visited and uniforms had to be bought, as well as having to provide them with all of their stationary they would need. For us adults we needed new driver’s licences, we had to organise a car, insurances, etc. We had somewhere temporary to live and temporary furniture organised by defence until our belongings arrive but there was so much to do. We had to learn a whole new medical system which is so different to the NHS we were blessed with in the UK and schooling was completely different for the children.
After visiting local schools, we chose ’Albany Creek State School’. They have years from prep (reception) to year 6, with 5 classes in each year and on average 28 kids per class. This is a lot bigger than the last school they were at in the UK but with the added advantage that many schools have a Defence Transition Support Aide, something that isn’t available in the UK. They are there as extra support to the children when parents are deployed, on exercise or just moving locations. They also help to issue the children with the Children’s Military Medal, which is awarded to the children when their parent or parents are deployed. They also arrange regular get togethers for the children, for instance this week all of the defence children had pizza for lunch as a treat. They also organise coffee mornings for the parents and if they can see the child is struggling they spend time one on one. This is a huge asset and each time my husband is away, our youngest always pops to see her to let her know.
Our biggest blow was 13 days after arriving, our house was broken into! Thankfully we were all out when it happened, but it did put a strain on things especially with the boys. They were scared to even go to the bathroom! Thankfully Defence Housing agreed that we could move to a different house in a new Suburb which helped a lot. Our new House is amazing! Our neighbours have made us feel so welcome, over here there is no set ‘married patch’ instead there are houses dotted all over Brisbane. Out of 9 houses in our street only 2 are Defence families, so It has been great to live around people who aren’t talking Military talk all the time.
In May 2015 our oldest son was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD, we have always known something was different with him, but it always felt pushed aside by the UK ‘specialists’. It’s been a long time coming but thankfully he now gets the extra help he deserves and is slowly but surely getting there.
We have made some really good friends since moving here nearly 4 years ago. We speak to my family almost every day and technology nowadays helps so much. It makes the distance not feel so much. We update on Facebook and my parents use this to talk to the boys, ask them about their days, and its there as an extra support for me, an extra connection to friends from home when my husband goes away.
We have always managed on our own but were lucky and our last UK posting was near to my family. My parents had the boys as often as they could as they knew we had these plans in place. They were really special times and I am forever thankful for the support they gave us then and continue to give us now. My mum had never flown before we left for Australia, but she's conquered her fear and along with my dad they are coming for a visit. We can’t wait!
In Australia, we have no family nearby to help. There’s no one to have them over for the night, or to look after if we had an appointment with specialists etc. However, the friends we have made have become family and we are hugely grateful for the support that they give us.
I joined the Chivenor Military Wives Choir when we were posted there, after being encouraged by another member to give it a go, it was one of the best decisions I could have made. I loved my time singing with them, so it was natural for me, on moving to Oz, to find out about my local choir.
I knew the Australian Military Wives Choir had begun in Canberra, and in October 2014 the Brisbane Military Wives Choir was formed. We started with just a few of us and there are now 20 of us getting together to sing and support each other. We have been fortunate to have sung at some amazing events already, including singing with John Farnham (an Aussie legend) and will be singing at the Invictus Games later this year. These ladies have also become a huge part of my life and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.
Despite the challenges we have faced along the way I feel incredibly lucky to have relocated and living the life we are with m husband and children. If anyone is thinking of making them move I wouldn’t hesitate to tell them ‘do it, you won’t regret it’.