WESM Student/Parent Handbook: 2013-14

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The Audit heard:. The non-feminised trades — different story completely. I find it [male dominated environment] a very harsh working environment Similarly, when asked what sort of comments were made to women and what sort of attitudes existed in these environments the Audit heard:. Just put-downs all the time. While Navy has indicated that a model and reduced IMPS scheme will be developed, to date these initiatives do not appear to have been implemented and the Audit has been provided with limited information in respect of their development.

The Audit encourages Navy to continue to progress work in this area and to expand developments to cover the full ambit of the recommendation.

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However, as outlined above, there is significant occupational segregation within Army which creates barriers to gender equality. The low representation in combat categories is partially due to Army containing the highest number of categories that have previously been restricted to men only. In this respect, work undertaken by Army in the implementation of Recommendation 11 will partly satisfy Recommendation In light of the above figures, the Audit reiterates the importance of increasing the representation of women in areas where there is substantial occupational segregation.

Further, Recommendation 10 is not confined to increased recruitment in non-traditional areas but, rather, extends beyond to measures such as the development of support mechanisms for women who may already be in these areas. The Army response does not take into consideration these additional aspects of the recommendation. Meanwhile, Air Force has undertaken substantial work in the implementation of this recommendation, which the Audit welcomes.

Specifically, Air Force has developed a number of key strategies which directly relate to the recommendation. The Gradate Pilot Scheme GPS is a targeted pilot recruitment model that aims to encourage women studying their second or third year of a bachelor of aviation at a civilian university to join Air Force. This observation challenges the assumption that reducing IMPS entails higher or earlier separations and takes into account the employability of unqualified personnel.

It is intended that the trial scheme would recruit ten women per year, which would represent a substantial increase in the number of female pilots. The Audit heard that:. Getting mass is going to be a key to this This scheme, in addition to the other highly targeted schemes such as the Pilot test waiver trial and the RPPS, demonstrate a substantial response to Recommendation 10, helping to position Air Force to attract and build a critical mass of women in those areas.

Recommendation 10 also required the Services to ensure that women in non-traditional roles are well supported. Women in these areas face unique and sometimes difficult career and workplace challenges, such as feelings of isolation or lack of mentoring and development, particularly if there are only one or two women in the work area. The expansion and specialisation of WINGs into the technical trades will provide much needed support for women in these roles. The CAF foreword states:. I believe there is strength in just knowing others have walked in your shoes and succeeded. Nobody can get through pilots course without support.

This handbook provides female pilots with practical advice and guidance with respect to issues that they may face and provides avenues for support. Such support and encouragement to use formal and informal support services is strongly endorsed by the Audit. As discussed under previous recommendations, the communication and messaging surrounding their implementation is critical to their effectiveness.

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The extracts above indicate that many of the initiatives have been accompanied by positive messaging. The implementation of the Graduate Pilot Scheme is an important development for recruiting women to this non-traditional area. The scheme involves a substantial reduction of IMPS for females entering through this scheme. The Audit heard significant backlash against this.

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Some bases told the Audit that there had been limited consultation and that the program may not have been presented in a sufficiently positive light. Subsequently there was significant resistance and personnel were divided on the legitimacy of the initiative. This may have been the result of the absence of a communications strategy.

Air Force is aware of the communication issues associated with implementation of schemes which are perceived to involve special treatment for women. Clear, targeted messaging and strategic communication can avoid, or mitigate, a backlash against women, as well as against the temporary special measures designed to achieve gender equality. The Audit urges Defence and the Services to be proactive in this area. To implement the removal of gender restrictions for combat roles successfully, the ADF Review found that the focus should be on ensuring that leaders, and teams as a whole, were engaged and educated about how they could contribute to effective performance in mixed gender environments.

To broad concepts for networking, mentoring, sponsorship and individualised support that can be further developed for future presentation to COSC to meet Recommendations 11 and 12 of the Report. In addition, a progress report on the removal of gender restrictions dated 17 December has been provided to the Audit. Each of the Services are initially restricting employment in combat roles for women to in-Service transfers. The degree to which the Services are required to undertake actions in response to this recommendation depends upon the number and size of the categories affected by the removal of gender restrictions.

The only Navy role affected by the removal of gender restrictions is that of Clearance Diver officer and sailor. Navy is developing a cultural change program to support the integration of women into combat roles. Discussions between this sailor and the Navy Psychologist will form the basis of a workshop or discussions with diving school personnel and potentially for the wider diving community.

The guidebook will contain guidance on expectations, potential challenges and practical strategies to address these challenges. The status and content of the guidebook is unknown at this stage. Army has undertaken steps to provide support to women who transfer to combat roles. For women considering in-Service transfer to a combat role, Army is permitting women who pass the Physical Employment Standard — PES to trial the category for a short period to allow them to make an informed decision about whether they wish to progress.

In addition, female transferees have the option to revert back to their previous category without consequence within the first 18 months.

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To physically accommodate the removal of gender restrictions, Army has upgraded certain facilities. There are minimal Air Force roles that are affected by the removal of gender restrictions.

Air Force has advised that the Air Force Workforce Diversity team will work closely with commanders of units into which women will enter for the first time. The placement of additional Air Force personnel at DFR is also intended to assist female applicants through the application process.


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As a similar measure to that implemented by Army, Air Force has initiated a short six-week job familiarisation detachment option. This allows potential female candidates to try the role with the option of returning to their previous position. As a means of addressing the readiness of the recently opened environments, Air Force documentation provided to the Audit indicated that there may be facilitated education sessions gender sensitivity and cultural awareness for their training staff, supervisors and peers, in addition to development of the guidebook mentioned above, providing advice on strategies for managing potential challenges.

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These are welcome developments, though as yet the Audit has not been provided with confirmation that this has occurred. Air Force has noted that the progress of women who decide to transition to combat roles will be discretely monitored. Air Force has undertaken substantial work to provide support to women in non-traditional roles, and mentoring for women more generally. This is addressed at Recommendation This section addresses the specific context of each Service in terms of implementing Recommendation 11, along with issues regarding the timing of implementation; the development of a critical mass; and the level of support required for women entering combat roles.

The section then addresses the importance of the culture of these environments for successful female integration and, finally, the backlash associated with some entrenched perceptions of special treatment.

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Each Service has taken steps to implement Recommendation Given that the degree to which the removal of gender restrictions affects the Services is varied, the extent and type of response has also varied. Further, each role and location has its own considerations and characteristics. Rather, it reinforces the importance of a strategy based on the specifics of the location, category and workplace culture. Recommendation 11 emphasises that preparation for the removal of gender restrictions is vital to its success, meaning that the Services should ensure that environments into which women will enter are ready, appropriately briefed and trained and that the leadership and team are fully engaged and educated about how they can contribute to effective performance in mixed gender environments.


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It is important that implementation be timely. The timing will also depend on each particular role, as women will not enter all categories at the same time. In its consultations the Audit encountered significant apprehension:. He may be with her out in the field unsupervised for hours a day. Where is his protection We work in close, confined environments If you brushed past her three times, is that sexual assault?

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Is that sexual discrimination if she takes it the wrong way?

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