Minister for Defence – Removal of Restrictions on Combat Roles for Women

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowdon today announced that the Government has formally agreed to the removal of gender restrictions from Australian Defence Force (ADF) combat roles.

Women will now be able to work in any position in the ADF, including combat roles, provided they have the ability to meet all of the demands of the role.

Women currently are eligible to serve in 93 per cent of employment categories, are now serving in command positions and on military operations overseas. More are reaching senior levels.

This decision follows on from the Minister for Defence’s announcement on 11 April that the Chief of the Defence Force would bring forward for implementation by the Government the opening up of all roles in the ADF to women on the basis that determination for suitability for roles in the ADF is to be based on their ability to perform in the role, not gender.

Roles to be open in the future to women from which women were previously excluded are: Navy Clearance Divers and Mine Clearance Diver Officers; Air Force Airfield Defence Guards and Ground Defence Officers; and Army Infantry and Armoured Corps and some Army Artillery roles.

Mr Smith said a comprehensive implementation plan will now be finalised by Defence for the integration of women into combat roles. This will be considered by Government by the first quarter of next year.

Defence will draw on the experience gained from opening more categories and positions to women over the last two decades and undertake additional research to enable implementation of the Government’s decision.

This new policy will be fully implemented within five years. Implementation is a high priority for the Government and for Defence, and Defence will provide regular reports to Government on implementation progress.

Mr Snowdon said women have a long and proud history of serving in the ADF. “This decision is a positive step, enhancing equality among the men and women who proudly wear the uniform.”

“Defence is committed to creating a work environment where all personnel are treated fairly and with respect.  Developing the implemented plan is central to this,” Mr Snowdon said.

As at 1 August 2011, 335 women were serving on current overseas operations representing more than 10 percent of the total overseas deployed force.

Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Mr Snowdon’s Office: Marcus Butler (02) 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796
Defence Media Operations: (02) 6127 1999

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