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Women in Defence

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Removal of Gender Restrictions from ADF Combat Roles

From 1 January 2013 all Australian Defence Force (ADF) employment categories are open to women currently serving in the ADF.

The move to open previous restricted employment categories to currently serving members aligns with the comprehensive and phased implementation plan agreed by the Government in 2012.

The plan ensures women entering these categories are supported and have the same opportunities as their male colleagues.


The Minister for Defence announced on 27 September 2011 that the Government had formally agreed to the removal of gender restrictions from Australian Defence Force combat roles.

The categories of Clearance Divers and Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Officers in the Navy; Infantry, Armoured Corps, some Artillery roles, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadrons and Combat Engineer Squadrons in the Army; and Airfield Defence Guards and Ground Defence Officers in the Air Force will all be made open to women over the next five years.

From January 2013, women currently serving as members of the ADF will be entitled to apply for a career in a combat role, provided they meet all the requirements. Direct entry recruitment is expected to commence from January 2016.

Implementation plan

On 11 October 2012 Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon and Chief of Defence Force, General David Hurley released Defence’s implementation plan on the removal of gender restrictions from ADF combat roles.

The implementation plan was developed by Defence to facilitate and support the entry of women into ADF combat role employment categories that have previously been unavailable to them. The Implementation Plan has the full support of both the Chief of Defence Force and the Service Chiefs.

The Implementation Plan includes proposed timelines and actions to remove barriers to women’s participation in all ADF combat role employment categories. Defence will embed the implementation plan over a five year period so that appropriate levels of support are available for women who choose to pursue a career in combat roles.

Current participation rates of Women in the ADF

As of 01 April 2014: