Gender equality on the front line

Gender equality on the front line

Opportunities for women to serve in combat roles within the Australian Defence Forces was the subject of a public hearing by the treaties committee in Canberra yesterday.

The committee reviewed the withdrawal of Australia's reservation to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) concerning women in combat and combat-related duties.

As of 1 January 2016, the government’s policy to remove all gender restrictions from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) combat roles was fully implemented. Women now have equal opportunities to apply and be considered for all ADF positions.

Committee chair Stuart Robert MP explained that the change in defence policy now renders the reservation to the Convention unnecessary.

"Recent changes to the ADF policy mean that Australia’s reservation to the Convention dealing with combat duties is no longer necessary," Mr Robert said.

"The committee’s review will include examining the uptake of women in combat roles to date, and the practices of other nations in gender exclusion from such positions."

Representatives from the Department of Defence and the Prime Minister's office were at the hearing and outlined the ADF's hopes for the future.

The current goals are participation rates of 15 per cent for the Army and 25 per cent for the Navy and Air Force by 2023.

The committee also heard that attrition rate of women shows no difference to that of men in the ADF.

The committee will report on the hearing by 20 June 2017.

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