Defence brought women together from different ranks and services for the first Remarkable Women panel event on November 4. 

The event aimed to inspire, motivate and appreciate the unique contribution women of the ADF make in civil society and across Defence. 

It provided an opportunity for ADF reservists and employers to hear from senior female ADF members. An intimate Q&A panel included special guests Captain Virginia Hayward Commissioner of ACT Emergency Services, Army Reserve Brigadier Georgeina Whelan and RAN Air Vice-Marshal Tracy Smart.

In the ACT, women make up 16 per cent of ADF reservists, yet over the years fewer female reservists have interacted with the division. 

Each prominent speaker had the opportunity to share their story and insights of being a female within Defence, breaking down barriers and finding a work-life balance. 

Brigadier Whelan shared her history since joining the Australian Army and how, after a long history of service, she came to the decision to transition to the reserves.  

She said one of the reasons she made the move was because of the demands as Chief of Staff to the ADF Headquarters and how it was taking its toll on her four children.  

“I was at a point where I had broken a fair few glass ceilings, with a small group of other women. A: getting to brigadier, B: getting to brigadier with four children, C: fulfilling three or four roles that traditionally had always been filled by doctors, but I sort of knew I wasn’t going to be surgeon general. I just had to toss up what was important in life for me,” Brigadier Whelan said. 

Brigadier Whelan said Defence provided the necessary skills for working in a civilian role.

“Defence really trains us well. Our education is good, our leadership development is good, our critical thinking is very sound. Our personnel management skills are very, very good. So we're actually quite a good commodity,” she said. 

Remarkable Women was the first targeted women’s event hosted by the Directorate of Reserve and Employer Support within Defence.