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Mentoring women into leadership


Defence is providing leadership development and mentoring to its female members of the Australian Public Service through a specially tailored program for APS 5 to Executive Level 1 staff.

Program aim

The Defence Mentoring Circles program has been developed to provide female civilian employees with career resilience and leadership development through group connection sessions, which work towards three core aims:

  • retaining and nurturing existing talent
  • encouraging a culture of diversity and inclusion
  • empowering female leaders.

‘The greatest benefit has been getting to know people outside of my normal working group and working location’, said participant Peta Rafty. ‘It has been really beneficial gaining an understanding of the different challenges colleagues are experiencing.’

‘Having so much depth of experience in the room to brainstorm and explore different options and solutions to our challenges has been so valuable and we do so with a great deal of encouragement and humour.’

Linda Pollard participated in the Melbourne group and shared her positive experience.

‘I didn’t really know what to expect. The program is well facilitated and guided, and I am surprised at times at the open and frank discussions. Obviously a level of trust has been established, which is so important.’

‘There are a range of talents and skills within the group, which makes it interesting. I am learning a lot about assertive behaviour and our behaviours as demonstrated in the program’s female dashboard—it helped me to understand and manage the differences between female and male behaviour’, she said.

The program was run in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, with additional locations to be added in the second half of 2016.