A passion for retaining women in Defence has resulted in Petty Officer Natalie Stephens becoming a finalist in the Australian Defence Magazine Women in Defence Awards 2020. 

Having a desire to give back and help the community, the Navy was a natural choice for Maritime Personnel Supervisor Petty Officer Natalie Stephens.

She was also looking for the opportunity to travel, experience different cultures and develop her interest and skills in languages.

Petty Officer Stephens was nominated in the People and Culture Category by Lieutenant Jannah Wright who said she nominated her for her passion for retaining women in Defence and her work with community groups outside of Defence.

“Besides the professional contribution Natalie makes to the Navy she also has a strong desire to make a tangible difference to those less fortunate and to contribute to the community, which she does by caring for people with disabilities through the NDIS and being a registered foster parent," Lieutenant Wright said.   

While in her previous posting at Personnel Support Unit, Cairns, Petty Officer Stephens implemented a program to support Navy personnel on maternity leave.  

The program supported the members while away from the Navy community and relieved the sense of isolation, often experienced by new mothers, especially when separated from their professional Navy support network.

“Navy retention was a big focus at the time but it appeared that there was a gap when it came to ensuring the retention of Navy personnel after maternity leave,” Petty Officer Stephens said.

“The program helped to achieve a 100 per cent retention rate of those members who took part in the program in Cairns and the concept was then forwarded to other Personnel Support Units around Australia for implementation.”

Petty Officer Stephens is also a member of the Navy Diversity Reference Group – Women, which provides grassroots feedback through the Navy Women Strategic Adviser and the Navy Diversity and Inclusion Council. 

“Being a member of the Diversity Reference Group, I’ve seen firsthand the changes being made in the Navy culture, which is resulting in a more equal and inclusive workforce,” Petty Officer Stephens said.

Her advice to other women working in the Defence organisation is simple.

“Be the role model other women need you to be and always stand up for what you believe in.”

The winners will be announced on Friday.