Defence families advocatr takes up torch to honour "homefront" sacrifices

01 June 2023

The Australian Defence Force has been shaping her family life for nearly two decades, and now Navy wife, reservist and defence researcher Amy Johnson is stepping up for other defence families too.

The passionate advocate for partners and children of ADF members is part of the Legacy Centenary Torch Relay when the international initiative travels through Rockhampton on Friday 2 June 2023.

It’s part of celebrations marking 100 years of Legacy Australia, the charity supporting spouses and children of Australian veterans.

Dr Johnson is a volunteer with Legacy, as well as a CQU Communications lecturer, the wife of an Australian Navy veteran, and an advocate for all defence families through her research.

Legacy currently supports 40,000 Defence partners and children across Australia, and Dr Johnson said she joined to give something back to the community.

“My husband and I have young kids and thankfully we haven’t experienced any significant illness or loss, but when you’re in that community it’s definitely something you’re aware of,” she said.

“Like so much of my research work, being part of the Legacy Torch Relay is about acknowledging and supporting the ‘homefront’ – the partners and families of Defence members who make their work possible.

“Across the community, there’s a lot of praise and support for the people who wear the uniform, and their service and their sacrifice, but what’s not talked about is what that means at home.”

Dr Johnson said having careers, community and raising children around the unique challenges of deployment, and the risks of service, and the emotional impacts of war, was something all Defence families grappled with.

“These are the people who have to pick up and build careers for themselves, or take care of the kids, and manage all of that alone.”

Dr Johnson said Legacy did a lot of “quiet work” in the region helping people carry on after their loved one’s death, which could be something as simple as having a cup of tea and a chat with a widow.

“It’s about that communication and having that relationship, and having shared experience of Defence family life is so meaningful,” she said.

Dr Johnson will be walking with the torch for a 200m leg on Friday, but others will be running or even wheeling their way along, with plenty of locals, including CQUniversity volunteers, providing vital encouragement.

Dr Johnson and other volunteers will use their CQUniversity engaged service leave to support the event.

CQUniversity offers engaged service leave to all staff, who are encouraged to spend one working day per year volunteering in their local communities.

In 2022, CQU staff took 98 days of engaged service, equating to 711 volunteer hours.