Landmark moment for women in the ADF

Landmark moment for women in the ADF

Office for Women International Forums Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Sub Lieutenant Sarah West, on-board HMAS Toowoomba in combat gear.

Australia has taken its final step towards enabling women to participate in all aspects of Australian Defence Force (ADF) combat operation.

All Australians can now apply and be enlisted into any role within the ADF as long as they can meet all the demands of the role.

This has been made possible by the Civil Law and Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 which passed through the Australian Parliament on 17 October 2018, removing all barriers preventing women from performing combat roles in the ADF from the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth).

Australia will also withdraw its reservation on women serving in combat positions from the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), an important moment for women’s workforce participation in the ADF.

The ADF began lifting the restrictions on employment categories in 2013 with all ADF employment categories open to current serving ADF women since 2014. Direct entry to all combat roles has been open to women entering the ADF since January 2016.

Since removing restrictions on women in combat roles, Defence has also introduced targets for women in the ADF. By 2023, Defence is aiming for 25 percent in the Navy, 15 percent in the Army and 25 percent in the Air Force. Currently women represent 17.9 percent of the permanent ADF (21.2 percent in the Navy, 14.3 percent in the Army and 22.4 percent in the Air Force).

More information is available on the Women in the ADF page.