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Women In Service

join us in a victory job poster

Brightly coloured recruitment posters encouraged young women to join up and more than 66,000 of them enlisted in the three services – Army, Navy and Air Force.  They made up just under 7% of the nearly 1 million Australians who served.

These days, every role in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is available for a woman to apply for, covering a wide range of trades, professions and disciplines - but that has not always been the case.
In 2018 women make up 17.9% of the ADF workforce. Women have served in Australian armed forces since 1899. Until World War II women were restricted to the Australian Army Nursing Service. This role expanded in 1941–42 when the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force established female branches in which women took on a range of support roles.

While these organisations were disbanded at the end of the war, they were re-established in 1950 as part of the military's permanent structure. Women were integrated into the services during the late 1970s and early 1980s, but were not allowed to apply for combat roles until 2013. Women can now serve in all positions in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), including the special forces.

 adf women

The ADF has an overall female participation rate of 17.9%. This has grown steadily since 2011, when Defence made increasing female participation a priority, with the intent of opening all previously gender restricted roles to women. Since 2012-13 defence has produced an annual ‘Women in the ADF’ report to assess their progress, as “increasing the participation of women in the ADF ensures that Defence secures the best possible talent available”.
The percentage of women in each service as of the 2017-18 report is 21.5% in the Navy, 14.3% in the Army, and 22.1% in the Air Force.