Maitland Grossmann High School

Quality Education in a Caring Learning Community

Telephone02 4934 2066

Defence School Mentor

DSM - Ursula Nagel

Hi my name is Ursula Nagel and I am the Defence School Mentor (DSM) here at Maitland Grossmann High School. I know that Transitioning from a different school, state or even year level is an exciting, although slightly unnerving time for students and their families. If you or your child or children have any concerns please advise me as soon as possible.

I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you that a parent being deployed, going away on exercise or lengthy courses can change a child's behaviour and willingness to learn in the classroom. Therefore, it would be great if you could contact me or send a note to the school making us aware of these absences. My role as the DSM is not only to help and support the children of Defence families, but also to liaise between parents, teachers, and the Defence Community Organisation (DCO).

If you have any concerns regarding your child's education, or would like to check on how they are settling in, please do not hesitate to contact me via school phone 49342066 or my email: 


The DSM Program provides support to secondary students of Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and their families, particularly during their transition into and out of a school on posting or during parental absences due to deployment, exercises or courses.

Defence families can change location frequently and due to differences in curriculum, subject selections and intake age requirements there can be considerable differences in their educational program from one school to the next and particularly from one state to another.

Additional to these pressures, the Defence family is also required to re-establish community connections and create new friendships and support networks every time they are relocated. The move can also impact the spouse as they may have to change jobs/careers each time they relocate, with possible financial pressures adding to the stresses already placed on the family.

This program was implemented by the Department of Defence, through the Defence Community Organisation, as a commitment to support its members and their families. They recognize that the education of Defence dependants may be negatively impacted by their mobile lifestyle and so have sought to provide this innovative resource to facilitate a more supportive educational environment for mobile ADF families.


  • A DSM provides assistance to students and their families. This may include: Coordinating appropriate welcoming and farewelling strategies for young people of Australian Defence Force families.
  • Supporting students to develop their self-confidence and resilience.
  • Encouraging young people to explore options and make the most of opportunities.
  • Assisting young people manage the challenges of transitions.
  • Referring students where necessary to appropriate student support services.
  • Identifying the issues and needs of individual students.
  • Developing and implementing programs and resources that address issues and needs.
  • Monitoring students' day to day social and emotional well-being.
  • Supporting young people at school during times of parental absence from home for service requirements.
  • Facilitating student participation in cultural, sporting, academic and personal development programs.