Defence School Mentor Services



My name is Tracey Cooper and I am the Defence School Mentor at Ripley Valley State School.

I enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a Medic, way back in 1989. I also worked with Army, Navy and Civilian personnel, working in military and civilian hospitals. I left the RNZAF in 1998 when I had my first son.

I have been married for 24 years and have had four children. My husband was in the Royal New Zealand Air Force for 14 years and has been in the RAAF for 19 years. He has spent a BIG amount of that time away overseas.

Which brings me to why I became a Defence Mentor. I can relate to how hard Military life can be at times and the challenges Defence students face.

The DSM role has been established in recognition that some Defence Force Children may experience some disruption to both the academic and social aspects of their schooling each time they move upon posting. Children may also experience difficulties during parental absences due to deployment, exercises, or courses.  The DSM role is not a teacher or social worker, nor are they intended to work one-on-one with a student on a long-term basis, rather their role is purely one of support.

The DSM program is funded by the Department of Defence through the Defence Member and Family Support (DMFS), (formally known as Defence Community Organisation – DCO).

The Defence School Mentor is responsible for:

Welcoming new ADF students into the school, ensuring a smooth transition from their previous school to RVSS. A Welcome Pack containing information about the DSM program, school activities, available support and goodies is given to new students posting in.
A Defence Parent Coffee and Chat is also organised each term to help ADF parents make connections is the school community.

Integrating new students by providing a Defence Club where they can meet other Defence students within the school,
Emailing parents with information regarding programs and support services the Defence Member and Family Support service provides,
Organise activities to commemorate ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day.

Absence Support, including activities for students to do to help encourage them to be resilient during times of parental absences. Information is also provided to parents who want to access support.

Farewelling students by providing Farewell Packs to Defence students who are posting out containing a photo frame that can be signed by friends and staff, information on the new school/area the student will be posted to, along with some goodies.

For further information contact the Defence School Mentor – Mrs Tracey Cooper -

Last reviewed 06 August 2021
Last updated 06 August 2021