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International Women’s Day
By Rose Hays
LefT: Professor Kerryn Phelps addresses the conference. cenTRe: Sophie Hunter (left) explains what Defence Housing can provide to Shannon Frazer at the Defence International Women’s
Day celebrations. RIgHT: Deputy Secretary People Strategies and Policy Mr Phil Minns addresses the guests at the Defence International Women’s Day celebrations at Adams Hall, ADFA.
Photos: Mark Brennan
What is Defence doing for women?
In 2009, the Chief of the Defence Force
launched the Defence Women’s Action
Plan, which is a step in the right direction to
improve the recruitment and participation
rates of women. The Action Plan aims
to improve workplace flexibility, career
management, accountability, mentoring
and communication across Defence, while
raising retention and Defence’s profile as an
This will be achieved by supporting both
women and men and includes supporting
members to access existing flexible work
practices such as career breaks, job sharing,
allowing the purchase of additional annual
leave and the right to work part-time within
two years after the birth or adoption of a
It is vital the Action Plan not be seen to
isolate men. It is intended that women
and men have equal access to support
mechanisms. Defence values the
experience, talent and professionalism of
everyone, and by getting a few things right,
Defence can retain these people through all
the phases of their lives.
More than words mark
More than 1000 Defence personnel across Australia have celebrated International
Women’s Day, with breakfasts, morning teas, lunches and words of wisdom.
In Canberra on 12 March, Defence held an event
at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA),
with celebrations also held regionally at a range of
Defence sites and establishments.
The Canberra event was opened by Deputy
Secretary People Strategies and Policy Mr Phil
Minns and officially launched by Vice Chief of
Defence Force Lieutenant General David Hurley,
who said that International Women’s Day is not
about affirmative action, tokenism or setting
women up on a pedestal.
“It’s about celebrating how far Australian society
and Defence in particular has come in providing
equality for women and engaging women in the
workforce,” LTGEN Hurley said.
“This day also provides an opportunity to highlight
the ongoing work Defence is undertaking
to actively and creatively engage women in
rewarding and enduring careers”.
The keynote speaker for the event was Adjunct
Professor at Sydney University and medical
practitioner Kerryn Phelps, who spoke about
women’s identity, the history of women in the ADF
and of her personal career journey.
Air Force Officer and ADFA PhD candidate, Wing
Commander Deanne Gibbon, presented her
research regarding the recruitment and retention
of women in the ADF, particularly in aviation and
Director General Defence Community Organisation
Mr Michael Callan gave a presentation on the
Defence Community Organisation and its relevance
to both genders.
The day had a festival ambience with internal and
external stalls providing information and advice
about their services throughout the day including:
Defence Community Organisation, Defence
Housing Australia, Chaplains, Defence Force
Recruiting, Women’s Information Referral Service
In conjunction with the seminar, the New
Generation Navy My Mentor program for women
was launched by Professor Kerryn Phelps and Head
Navy People and Reputation Rear Admiral Trevor
Jones. My Mentor provides a structured program
of support and development for women in Navy.
Further information is available at www.navy.gov.
Director General Fairness and Resolution John
Diercks said he was proud of Defence’s Rights
and Responsibilities directorate for its effort in
coordinating the events, which he described as a
major step towards gender equality in Defence,
celebrating the achievements of women in
Mr Diercks envisages the 100-year anniversary
of International Women’s Day in 2011 will be
celebrated even more broadly and enthusiastically
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