Thursday 8 May 2014 by Gabrielle Considine. No comments
Collection, Personal Stories, oral history, partners


Recently, partners of current serving members of the ADF have shared their stories with the Australian War Memorial as part of the Partner’s Project. Through oral history interviews, this project explores the everyday lives of people who support their military partner. Many partners have discussed the highs and lows of postings and deployment, and the impact these have had on their lives.

One partner expresses her thoughts on the first week after her partner’s deployment:

“The hardest week of my life I think……. trying to get use to him not being there and knowing that you don’t know when he’s coming home. You’re not given a date that they’ll be home. So it’s trying to set your own routine, trying to get used to doing things for yourself, you notice things that you took for granted, that they do. It was really hard.”

 A diverse range of partners have approached us, and we appreciated how candidly they shared their experiences. Many have dealt with difficult circumstances while their partner absent, and describe the intense feelings associated with unpredictable and sometimes uncontrollable situations. One a partner explained:

“I had very little contact from Defence while my husband was deployed… you have a choice to make yourself known……   I made the choice to be known.”

Another partner recalls the departure of his Naval wife:  

“It was a complete role reversal, to be with the kids waving goodbye to their mum. It was an interesting perspective. We were all pretty sad and happy at the same time. ..I thought the kids would be more upset than they were…they were trying to be more supportive of me actually.”

The Partner’s Project explores the capability and flexibility of partners who support ADF personnel through the transition from defence to domestic life. We have had great feedback from those who participated in the interviews; they expressed the strong sense that doing an oral history interview is both a positive experience and a unique opportunity for their stories to be heard.

One partner summarised her views of the Australian Defence Force like this:

“I say it is the biggest peace movement in our nation, many people would say the opposite. But, I truly believe that the greatest force for peace we have, are the serving members of our Defence Force and their families.”

The Memorial is seeking all types of people, who have partners that have served in current day conflicts, to be a part of this project. If you would like to contribute please contact the oral history staff: