Home' Navy News : October 13th 2011 Contents COMPLETE YOUR
Help us raise vital funds for Legacy
From 1 July, Toll Transitions will donate $1 to Legacy for
each Application For Relocation (AFR) entered online via
Toll Transitions' website. Our aim is to raise more than
$10,000 in the coming peak posting period.
In addition to helping Legacy, you will also go into a
monthly draw* for a Valet Unpack Service.**
Enter your AFR online today to help us
increase our donation to Legacy and for
your chance to win.
*Terms and Conditions apply.
**Valet Unpack Service includes: Furniture arranged in each room, beds
made, goods unpacked and put away in cupboards, bench tops wiped down,
cartons fully emptied and collapsed ready for collection by removalist.
YOUR Relocation, OUR Priority
have streamlined our processes to ensure your
ocation will be a seamless one and you can depend on
to take care of your relocation from beginning to end.
r dedicated Toll Transitions Case Manager will assist
every step of the way and liaise closely with DHA, to
ure your housing requirements are met. Their priority
o ensure that you are fully informed and supported
oughout the relocation process.
have also recently upgraded our website to enable you
ess and improved performance via multiple internet
wsers. Complete your pre-AFR/AFR online at
ww.tolltransitions.com.au/defence and your Case
nager will contact you to get things moving. If you have
y immediate questions or concerns, please contact us
1800 819 167.
October 13, 2011
70 years of proud history
For many women, however, it was an
opportunity to break away from the few
career and education opportunities avail-
able to them in civilian life.
Former Special Duties (SD)
Communications Officer Kerry Holmes
said that while such a career choice was
seen as "strange" at the time, it often got
women away from large families, pos-
sibly living in near poverty, and provided
them with clothing, food and board, train-
ing/education, new skills, a viable career
and financial security.
"I enjoyed my time in the Navy," for-
mer LWRWTR(ST) Christine Barbour
"It gave me the training and back-
ground that was necessary when I moved
onto a second career and to travel over-
Christine was a short-hand typist and
she said there were only a few in the
"One of the reasons I left was because
there was no further promotion available
to my specialised rating at that time."
This limited career choice changed in
1959 when the branch became part of the
Permanent Naval Forces (non-combatant
and non-seagoing), although still as a sep-
arate entity, and women were employed
as cooks, stewards, writers, stores victual-
ling, regulating, radio operators, radar
plotters, motor transport drivers, electron-
ic technical communicators, and dental
and medical sick bay attendants.
WRANS officers were employed in
administration, training, recruiting, com-
munications, supply and secretariat, med-
icine, dentistry and law.
They served at all naval and some
combined bases and headquarters in
Australia and overseas, including at
Manus Island and in Singapore.
Conditions of service and employment
opportunities for WRANS were aligned
as closely as possible with those of their
male counterparts and aspects such as
pay differences and the requirement to
resign upon falling pregnant reflected the
broader workforce conditions of the time.
This changed in 1975 when
Government policy across the workforce
changed. Married WRANS could contin-
ue to serve and were entitled to 12 weeks
paid and up to 12 months unpaid mater-
nity leave. However, it was not until 1984
that unmarried pregnant WRANS were no
longer automatically discharged.
What was significant, though, was that
until 1968, WRANS had no power of
command over subordinate male officers
Former WO Joan Henstock and
CPORST Denise Butler said they had
seen enormous changes during this period
to the 'how' and 'where' WRANS served.
LCDR Judith Rowe pointed out that
until equal pay was introduced in 1979,
women got 80 per cent of male pay. At
the same time, while billets were desig-
nated for males and females, increasingly,
women were filling male positions.
"That meant [in one job] I was doing a
'man's work' for 80 per cent of the pay,"
The most important difference, how-
ever, came from the Government policy
that women be excluded from any com-
bat or combat-related duties. Although
WRANS officers in the 1980s could serve
aboard the training ship HMAS Jervis
Bay for three-week cruises while they
were under training, the policy prevented
WRANS from sea duty.
Things were set to change. During
the early 1980s, as workforce conditions
changed across Australia, the question
of women serving at sea came under
increasing examination and slowly
females were posted to ships.
In 1983, for the first time women were
routinely posted to ships (provided they
passed the sea service medical) as fully-
fledged members of the ship's company.
In July 1984, the last class of WRANS
enlisted and in September all women
were informed they would be liable for
With the change came evolution. The
WRANS as an organisation was disband-
ed in 1985 and on June 7 its members
became fully integrated into the RAN,
assuming RAN badges of ranks and
ranks/rates and equal pay and conditions.
The final step occurred in 1991 when the
post-nominal WRANS was removed from
all former members and they became
RAN, along with females who joined the
Its last Director was CAPT Marcia
Chalmers, although CMDR Julie Gulson
oversaw the transition to the RAN.
With its passing the Senior Service's
women lost a part of their own culture,
history and heritage but most would prob-
ably argue that the gains they made as
members of the RAN far outweighed
"There was a downside," LCDR Rowe
"While we were now exposed to far
more career opportunities and choices,
we were now competing against the men
as well, so the opportunities for promo-
tion were fewer."
LCDR Holmes agreed.
"I loved the life with its diversity,
friendships, training and education and
wide variety in my postings, and left
reluctantly in July 2001. But the Navy
was placing more and more emphasis on
seagoing careers for women and, because
my eyesight was below that required
of a seaman officer, I was locked into
my career. There were no opportunities
to transfer or go to sea -- I was caught
between the old and the new."
These former members and others
interviewed all agreed that they had loved
their service and the lifestyle it had pro-
vided them. Just as importantly, it provid-
ed them with a wide range of skills and
abilities they took into their future career
paths, including into the RAN.
Nevertheless, the WRANS do live on.
The proud service still has members
serving in the RAN, while it is remem-
bered by a stained glass window at the
Garden Island chapel in Sydney and a
special memorial that was dedicated dur-
ing Harman's 60th anniversary on July
It also has a very strong association
with branches in most states and territo-
KEEPING THINGS IN ORDER: Four
unidentified WRANS in the medical
records section of the Flinders Naval
Depot hospital at HMAS Cerberus on
November 30, 1945.
Photo: SGT F. Carew (AWM 122533)
ON PARADE: (Above
left) WRANS on parade
in summer uniform in
Brisbane, circa 1944-45.
Photo courtesy M.K. Thorne
ROYAL VISIT: (Above)
opens the WRANS
Quarters at HMAS
Harman in September
Photo: Defence Department
Links Archive September 29th 2011 October 27th 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page