Keeping Watch lends a hand to family in need

Published on LEUT Naomi Deignan (author), Image courtesy of ABEW Rhiannon Walker (photographer)

Topic(s): Keeping Watch

Able Seaman Rhiannon Walker with her children, Imogen and Xavier. (photo: Unknown)
Able Seaman Rhiannon Walker with her children, Imogen and Xavier.

A sailor and mother of two says Navy’s Keeping Watch grant program has saved her family from being swamped by medical bills.

Both of Able Seaman (AB) Rhiannon Walker’s young children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis.

“One of my children in particular requires substantial support for her disability,” AB Walker said.

Over time the family has used many of the available financial support options from private health funding, including the ADF Family Health Program and more recently the government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme. But the bills kept piling up.

“Sadly financial gaps still arose while we were ensuring the medical care required for my family,” she said.

AB Walker says the option of applying to Keeping Watch was brought to her attention by her supervisor.

“When a signal came out for applications for the Keeping Watch grant program, my Chief suggested I apply to help with my outstanding medical bills,” AB Walker said.

“With the help of my Divisional chain I was able to submit the Keeping Watch application which was approved and has been a huge financial relief for me.”

The burdens that come with a medical crisis can be staggering. Families can experience significant financial and emotional stress if a member has a permanent condition, a disability or if a family member is injured and requires intense medical support. Often there is a flood of logistical problems, the offshoots that accompany a medical crisis.

Getting to and from hospitals or medical appointments grows into an obstacle on top of daily living; errands like grocery shopping, cooking dinner, and ferrying children around requires more planning and mental effort when a family member is not well. Individually, these problems are small, but combined with less time, increased stress and additional costs; together they can be monstrous and may affect family relationships and mental health.

Keeping Watch’s Chair, Rear Admiral Peter Laver says it's these situations which Keeping Watch is designed for.

“We were delighted to help AB Walker and her family,” he said.

“Every application is carefully considered and we have helped 24 families in the past twelve months. Keeping Watch has real flexibility in the assistance it can provide. It is an important means by which members of the naval family can access such help in times of crisis.”

For further information on Keeping Watch, including how to make a tax deductible donation to support the work of the Navy’s charity, visit