Message for family and friends of expeditioners

Family and friends presentation

Video transcript

Hi I’m Andrew Groom and I’m the Human Resources Manager at the Australian Antarctic Division

You’ve been nominated as a contact person for an Australian Antarctic Program expeditioner.

It’s an exciting time for expeditioners as they prepare to head south to undertake work in Antarctica or on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island. For many, it’s the chance of a lifetime and the culmination of many years of planning and hard work. But it can also be a period of uncertainty and concern as the departure date approaches.

Family members, partners and close friends are integral to the success of the expeditioners’ trip and the broader Australian Antarctic Program. I hope this presentation helps you better understand the critical support role you play and how we, at the Antarctic Division, can support you.

Separating from loved ones can be a challenging time for expeditioners, as well as those left behind. Expeditioners could be away for a few short weeks or more than a year.

There are many things you will need to consider.

How will you handle the disruption to your routine prior to departure, during your expeditioner’s absence and upon their return?

Is there someone who can help with activities at home such as mowing the lawn or doing the school run?

Are your expeditioner’s papers in order? Is there a will and are you across the finances?

Have a frank conversation about any issues or concerns you have about your expeditioner being away.

Who will care for your children or dependents if you become ill, while your expeditioner is away?

Devise strategies to address these issues or concerns well before departure.

Consider the difficult question about what you will do if a family member is ill or dies during your expeditioner’s trip? Do you have concerns about them not being at home and unable to attend the funeral?

Consider the impact of the absence during other significant milestone events such as birthdays, weddings or moving house.

Our ability to get people home in the event of a family emergency is very limited. Over summer while we may be able to get them home on the ship or plane, it could take a significant amount of time due to logistical constraints or the unpredictable Antarctic weather. Over winter there is no access to the stations.

We have developed a booklet with useful information and tips to help you navigate the period of separation. You can access this on the Division’s website or in hardcopy.

The Division has a free and confidential counselling service available to you and other family members. The Employee Assistance Program provides professional counselling either on the phone or in person. EAP is available to you now as a family member, through the period of separation and for up to six months after your expeditioner returns.

If you need to contact your expeditioner urgently, or need more information or support while they are away, please contact the Expeditioner Liaison Officer in the Division’s Human Resources team.

It’s important to agree with your expeditoner how you will keep in touch. All expeditioners have email and phone access, although in some locations this can be limited. There is no internet while they are travelling on ships but there is text-only email.

To call the station and ship:

Phone the international access code – 0011

Then the country code - 672

Then the station access code and four-digit room extension.

To contact expeditioners on the ship you can call the radio room.

Each week the stations post an update on their activities on the Division’s website. The Station News is published on Fridays and gives a snapshot of life on the ice.

The shipping and flight schedule can be found on the website. While we aim to keep these up-to-date, there are sometimes factors outside of our control that may affect departure and arrival dates.

If your expeditioner is travelling to Antarctica on the ship, there is a daily update of the voyage posted online.

If you want to send mail or cargo to your expeditioner, there is information on the process on our website. The shipping schedule also includes the closing dates for mail for each flight and voyage.

You can access all the information covered in this presentation on the Australian Antarctic Division’s website, under “Family and Friends”.

We are here to support you during your expeditioners trip so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

Thank you for your support of the Australian Antarctic Program.

[end transcript]

You have been nominated as a contact for an expeditioner participating in Australia’s Antarctic Program.

Please view the video and contact us if you have any concerns.