Strengthening Defence and Veteran Couple Relationships through Relationship Education

About the project

Current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and their families experience unique challenges in navigating the ADF lifestyle, and the transition to civilian life. These challenges, including frequent postings and separations, can place strain on couple relationships making them more vulnerable to relationship distress and breakdown. 

This project explored how to best support relationships through these challenges by examining existing evidence-based couple relationship education programs. The project aimed to determine how existing programs could be adapted and potentially trialled with current and ex-serving couple relationships to build and maintain stronger, well-functioning couple relationship environments. 

Researchers investigated what relationship interventions currently exist and how they might be adapted to address the needs of current and ex-serving ADF members and their families. This occurred through:

  • a review of the academic literature
  • consultations with stakeholders involved in delivering support services
  • focus groups with current and ex-serving ADF couples to discuss their needs and how interventions could adapted to meet those needs.

Future application

Open Arms is now considering the findings of this research to select a suitable couple relationship education program that can be appropriately trialled, evaluated and adapted to the veteran context.


This project was conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies and funded by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Applied Research Program.

More Information

Read a summary of findings  (PDF 845 KB) or the final report  (PDF 4.3 MB).

To find out more about available relationship education services, contact Open Arms on 1800 011 046.