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March 28, 2013
CPL Max Bree
WHEN two female clerks were
posted to 1RAR in the early 70s,
more than a few eyebrows were
raised, according to CDF GEN
“This was unheard of,” he said.
“Women served in a separate
part of the Army – the Women’s
Royal Australian Army Corps – and
they wore distinctly different uni-
“I recall a fashion parade in
Victoria Barracks in Sydney, to
which I wasn’t invited, when new
WRAAC uniforms were modelled
by professional models.”
More than 40 years later, and
after the removal of gender restric-
tions in the ADF, men and women
from around the world came togeth-
er to hear 20 speakers discuss issues
facing women in the military and
law enforcement in Canberra on
Defence chiefs, politicians, sen-
ior female officers from Australia
and coalition countries and civilian
experts used the Gender in Defence
and Security Leadership conference
to discuss overcoming obstacles fac-
ing women in the defence and secu-
CDF spoke about how the pro-
gress of women in the Defence
Force needed to be further recog-
nised and celebrated.
“One of my objectives for this
conference is for us to recognise this
achievement, but not rest on our lau-
rels, and determine how we inform,
reinforce and build on our achieve-
ments,” he said.
“We have made good progress
but we still have more work to do.
Exceptional women should not be
“Defence has the will and the
policies to achieve greater gender
equality. The next step is to ensure
our mid-ranking officers and mid-
dle managers have the support they
need to implement those policies.”
The conference also helped the
ADF benchmark its progress in
creating greater opportunities for
“The changes we have made are
both necessary and valuable. To sus-
tain a viable workforce we simply
cannot ignore half of the nation’s
talent pool,” GEN Hurley said.
Changes would include flex-
ible work arrangements and support
mechanisms to make sure everyone
in the ADF had the same opportu-
nity to pursue a military career.
GEN Hurley said as the ADF
sought to increase the number of
women serving, the military would
need to start thinking about where it
would ultimately lead.
“What is the appropriate target –
50:50? 60:40? 40:60? Is there a mix of
men and women between the combat
and non-combat elements of our force
that optimises the force?” he said.
“I think that we need to under-
take more modelling of our work-
force to inform this discussion.”
He also said the ADF needed
to explore ideas to develop a better
childcare model for military fami-
lies’ requirements, such as allow-
ing members to purchase addi-
tional leave, allowing shared leave
between service couples and review-
ing service residences to offer an
extra bedroom for a full-time carer.
“These particular initiatives
emerged from the Army Women’s
Forum but apply equally across the
sexes and services,” he said.
“We are also currently examin-
ing part-time or remote access to
key promotion courses, increased
flexibility in meeting key career
milestones and greater access to part
time or flexible work arrangements.”
GEN Hurley said diversity and
inclusion were crucial to the ADF’s
ability to operate at maximum capa-
Also speaking at the conference,
Defence Science and Personnel
Minister Warren Snowdon said
when he began floating the idea of
women in combat he anticipated a
“I started socialising it through
the community, through RSL con-
ferences expecting a negative reac-
tion. It never came,” he said.
“So I wasn’t surprised at the end
when the announcement was made
there was hardly a trickle of opposi-
Mr Snowdon dismissed sug-
gestions that the new employment
standards would stop women enter-
ing combat roles.
“There are a lot of people who
might have thought at the beginning
that this is all about some way of
masquerading, disguising that we
didn’t want women to get into these
jobs,” he said.
“With physical employment
standards, many men won’t get the
job, because they won’t pass the
PES test, a lot of women will.”
Defence Minister Stephen Smith
said increasing the number of
females in Defence would be essen-
tial in the coming years.
“Australia’s ageing population,
combined with fewer school-leavers
and an increasingly strong employ-
ment market means that in forth-
coming years there will be fewer
people available to meet demand,”
Mr Smith said.
“Competition for talent, especial-
ly school-leavers, who make up the
majority of entrants to the ADF, will
“Greater inclusion of women in
Defence’s core business will estab-
lish and cement its place as a work-
lead the way
CPL Max Bree
LSEW SM Kristy Eadie was one of
many attendees at the Defence and
Security Leadership Conference who
found it a valuable event.
Posted to Submarine Operations
at HQJOC, she will soon go before an
officer selection board.
“It was refreshing that instead of
looking at the differences between the
genders, it focused on the changing roles
of men and women and how both can
increase the capability through this cur-
rent paradigm shift,” LS Eadie said.
“Of course men and women are dif-
ferent, but it’s about maximising the sim-
ilarities and using the differences to the
LS Eadie said she also had an oppor-
tunity to speak with WO-N Martin
Holzberger about the new mixed male
and female messing on submarines.
“I think it’s fantastic,” she said.
“Its only backlash I have witnessed
has been from ill-informed partners (of
“But as submariners, we don’t get
as much opportunity to shower, unless
you’re the medics or cooks, and are pret-
ty wrecked from the watch system, so
there’s definitely no danger of fraternisa-
tion while underway.”
She said mixed messing would open
more spaces for both genders.
“If we only have two girls or guys
from a single gender cabin go to sea
that’s four racks that aren’t filled. So
mixed messing is maximising the usage
After being delayed from finishing
her submarine competency log due to
a lack of female racks, LS Eadie said
prospective submariners would greatly
benefit from the new system.
“For the trainees especially it
wouldn’t matter if you’re a guy or girl,
it’s off you go to sea and get your comp
log done,” she said.
For young women in Navy, LS Eadie
said it was important to build networks
of fellow sailors and have someone out-
side Defence to speak to for perspective.
“If you’re having trouble, don’t feel
you can’t talk to someone,” she said.
“Have your friends and family on the
outside, get them involved as much as
possible to make them understand what
it’s like as this will better enable them to
LS Eadie was also keen to ensure
junior sailors performed better than those
who came before.
“I think each generation that comes
through should be better than the last,”
“If they’re not better I think we’ve
done something wrong. I never under-
stand people having a go at Gen-X or
Gen-Y, as you brought them up.”
Future for women
looks even brighter
SHARING IDEAS: LSEW SM Kristy Eadie was one of many attendees at the
Gender in Defence and Security Leadership Conference. Photo: CPL Max Bree
DISCUSSIONS: CDF GEN David Hurley listens to USN Vice Chief of Naval Operations ADML Mark E
Ferguson III during a panel discussion at the Gender in Defence and Security Leadership Conference.
Photo: Lauren Black
– CDF GEN David Hurley
We have made
but we still have
more work to do.
should not be the
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