With approximately 14 per cent of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) being female, female veterans are making up an increasing proportion of DVA clients. In 2012, an average of 345 females served on overseas operations at any given time, with their roles including logistics, health, communications, transport, signals, engineering and intelligence. The start of 2013 saw the ADF open all employment categories to servicewomen and a new Army recruitment campaign to increase the number of women serving over the next 12 months.
More than 11 000 veterans with one or more accepted conditions under any Act administered by DVA are female. In the last few years the Department has significantly improved services for contemporary veterans, including female veterans. DVA and Defence have also recognised that female veterans have unique requirements and so have established an ADF Service Women Steering Committee to inform both departments of the specific needs of women.
The committee is co-chaired by Gayle Anderson, Assistant Secretary Service Development and Defence Relations Branch (DVA) and MAJGEN Gerard Fogarty AO, Head of People Capability, Defence. Membership includes female current and former serving members (both regular and reserve) who have deployed on operations to Somalia, Timor Leste, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The committee is considering a broad range of information, including research by Dr Samantha Crompvoets of the Australian National University which was funded through DVA’s Applied Research Program. The study, completed in 2012, was commissioned to look at the needs of the growing number of female veterans. The report from this study into the health and wellbeing of female Vietnam and contemporary veterans is available on the DVA website.
The ADF Service Women Steering Committee has met three times between May 2013 and 30 June 2013 and will continue to meet regularly until August 2013, after which the Committee will report to the Repatriation and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commissions with recommendations to further guide service design.