An external Reference Group on Women has been established to advise the Australian Defence Force (ADF) on the recruitment and retention of servicewomen, the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, announced today.
“Members of the reference group are senior women who have a track-record of success in male-dominated professions or have been responsible for innovative strategies to increase the participation of women in their workplaces,” Mr Snowdon said.
The reference group, established by the Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, AC, AFC, will consider the issues of Defence culture, attitude and behaviour, alongside an examination of the current range of family-friendly policies in the ADF which are not fully utilised.
Air Chief Marshal Houston said, “These women are very busy people who are leaders in their fields and I am delighted that they have agreed to join us in confronting the challenges the ADF faces in recruiting and retaining servicewomen.”
“It is important that the ADF also finds ways to address community perceptions about the career opportunities and lifestyle for women in the Navy, Army and Air Force, and removes any career obstacles,” said Air Chief Marshal Houston.
To assist in the task, Minister Snowdon is also beginning a round of consultation with women who already serve in Defence.
“Women make up approximately 46 per cent of the Australian workforce but only 13 per cent serve in the regular forces,” said Mr Snowdon. “This means that the ADF is not maximising the potential of a largely untapped source of recruits. A fresh look at the issues and barriers confronting women in the military is needed, and I will be seeking that from the women who know exactly why they joined, and why they’ve stayed.“
The first consultative meeting will be held today, followed by many more around the country, and the comments and experiences will be fed back into the external reference group and into Defence’s senior leadership.
“The number of women in the ADF is the same today as it was a decade ago, and Government will be working with the service chiefs to see that situation improve. An ADF that draws on the full potential of the Australian workforce will reflect the diversity, ethnicity, and strengths of the nation, and at around 7000 women, Defence has a long way to go,” he said.
Membership of the Reference Group on Women:
Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner
Margaret Gardner, AOVice Chancellor, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
Sam Mostyn, Group Executive Culture and Reputation, Insurance Australia Group
Christine Nixon, APM Chief Commissioner, Victoria Police
Elizabeth Proust, Company Director
Christine Charles, Regional Director, Environment, Social Responsibilities, Newmont Mining Asia Pacific
The aim of the Reference Group on Women is to assist Australian Defence Force (ADF) leadership understand the current progress on attracting and retaining women and to make recommendations based on reference group members’ own experiences, including in traditionally male workplaces, to achieve improved outcomes in the employment of women within the ADF.
This may include recommendations to overcome systemic, cultural, attitudinal and behavioural aspects that directly or indirectly negatively influence the recruitment, retention, development and management of women.