Introducing Hayley Boswell, founder of Defence Kidz and winner of the 2023 Defence Family Business Award
It’s been a big year for Defence Kidz founder Hayley Boswell and she isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
Hayley is the wife of a Navy veteran, a mum of two, a lawyer and a dynamo advocate for the families of serving and ex-serving defence members.
The 42-year-old started Defence Kidz with a picture book to help her eldest daughter understand what her dad did in the Navy.
It has since grown to become an organisation that’s primary focus is advocacy, information sharing and creating resources to support defence and veteran families.
And there is even a cartoon in the works.
Last year Hayley was a finalist in the inaugural Prince’s Trust Australia Beyond Service Awards.
“Being a finalist gave me amazing exposure,” she said.
“Many people contacted me after the awards to talk about my initiative because they'd heard about it through the Prince's Trust social media or just through connections.
“It really elevated awareness of me in the community, which has helped my organisation.
“Now people are more aware of what we're doing and the important work we're undertaking.”
After another 12 months of tireless advocacy and achievements, it’s no surprise Hayley is a finalist in the Defence Family Business Award category once again.
Hayley is currently in the thick of turning her Defence Kidz books into a children's cartoon, partnering with Cheeky Little Media.
“The cartoon will launch in 2025,” she said.
“It's not as quick as I would like it, because I like everything done yesterday, but it takes about 12 months to create a cartoon.
“We've got a script and we have the cartoon characters.
“We have a defence spouse writing it, we have a veteran spouse creating the actual characters and we also have veterans and veteran families consulting on it.
“It will be streamed initially on YouTube, to ensure that all defence and veteran children can access this resource when needed.”
But that’s not all. Hayley has continued speaking out on behalf of her community.
She successfully helped get the Tick Box Initiative across the line in South Australian, which resulted in a tick box to identify defence and veteran children being included on SA school enrolment forms from next year.
“I’ve been advocating for this for along time together with Veterans SA and other organisations prior to that,” Hayley said.
“This will be really beneficial for defence and veteran children as we can now identify where they are and best support them.”
With the help of Veteran Family Advocate Commissioner, Gwen Cherne, the initiative has been taken up by ACT and discussions are ongoing with other states.
Hayley is actively advocating the South Australian Government to make children from defence and veteran families apriority in childcare and preschool, and she is pushing for defence and veteran children to have further counselling support, especially children under the age of five, as they are not currently being serviced.
As a member of the South Australian Government Veteran Advisory Council, Hayley has also raised the Defence and Veteran Families Initiative, which advocates for a dedicated day to celebrate and recognise defence and veteran families.
“We’re also advocating for GPs, medical practitioners and aged care centres to identified defence and veteran members and families,” she said.
“We’re heavily focused on positive data collection and making sure that we identify where defence and veteran families are, and that way we can better support them.”
Hayley’s work with the Veteran Advisory Council also included attending a South Australian Magistrates Forum to discuss the experiences of veterans and their families in the criminal justice system.
With her background as a lawyer Hayley is keen to take this a step further.
“I’m going to advocate for a diversion program in the court system for veterans,” she said.
“Veterans have some challenges in the criminal justice system, especially when it comes to a lack of understanding around PTSD.
“A diversion court would be a good option to allow veterans to be removed from a court system, while still dealing with the problems.
“It's a tall task, but I think I'm up for it.”
Hayley said moving forward she would continue doing what she did best - speaking up for the defence and veteran community.
“Our community and our policy makers really do want to help veterans and their families, they just don't know how to do it until we speak up and educate them about what we need,” she said.
“We're moving into this positive world where veterans can be better supported, but we're just not there yet, so I’ll keep chipping away.”
This story was written by Courtney Snowden, freelance copywriter and current serving ADF spouse, based in Queensland.
An initiative of the Prince’s Trust Australia Enterprise programme, the Beyond Service Awards are designed to celebrate the entrepreneurial achievements of Australia’s veteran and family business community.
The2023 Beyond Service Awards are proudly sponsored by Gold Sponsor Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Silver Sponsor Saab Australia.
For further information, contact Prince’s Trust Australia via email at: email@example.com.
Hayley is the Founder of Defence Kidz, a business specializing in bespoke resources for Defence children that promote positive mental health, connection, and education.
With first-hand experience of the challenges facing Defence children, Hayley passionately advocates for positive change through Defence Kidz. This includes appointments to the South Australian Government Veterans Advisory Council and participating in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Veterans and Families Policy Forum (2023).
Hayley has distributed over 13,000 books in Australian and overseas and is currently creating a cartoon animation for children of Defence families. She works collaboratively with other organisations, including RSL Care, Oasis Townsville, Defence Bank, Coles, and the Australian War Memorial.
Hayley is a Defence spouse, mother of two young children, and a Principal Solicitor based in Adelaide, South Australia.
Beyond Service Awards Finalist – 2022
Australian Small Business Awards Finalist – 2023
Prime Minister’s National Veteran Employment Awards Finalist – 2023