Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Australian women allowed on front line

rexfeatures_402736u.jpg
rexfeatures_1204155b.jpg
rexfeatures_791453b.jpg

Australia's government has lifted its ban on women serving in front line combat, making it just the fourth country in the developed world with no restrictions on the role of female soldiers.

The move, announced on Tuesday (27 September), means women serving in the Australian military will soon be able to serve in special force units in conflict zones such as Afghanistan.

Defense Minister Stephen Smith said the ban on women in front line combat would be lifted immediately but could take up to five years to implement fully.

"We have an Australian Army that’s been going for 110 years, an Australian Navy that’s been going formally for 100 years, and an Australian Air Force that’s been going for 90 years, and last night, we resolved to remove the final restrictions on the capacity of women to serve in frontline combat roles,” he said. “In the future, your role in the defense force will be determined on your ability, not on the basis of your sex ... This is a significant and major cultural change."

Just over 300 women currently serve in overseas military operations for Australia, accounting for over 10 percent of the country's fighting forces.

Critics dismissed the move to open up all roles to women in the armed forces as a political gimmick.

Neil James, the head of the Australian Defence Association lobby group, said the government was "jumping the gun" on a study currently being carried out on women's skills in a military context.

"It doesn't actually give us a lot of confidence that this is anything more than another political gimmick and a distraction," James said in an interview with ABC radio.

Australia now joins Canada, New Zealand and Israel as the only developed countries who place no restrictions on the role of women in their armed forces.

Around 17,900 women (or 9.1 percent) serve in the UK military with 3,670 ranking as officers. None are allowed in front line combat or situations where the primary duty is "to close with and kill the enemy."

Over in the US, women make up around 14 percent of the armed forces, but are similarly banned from certain front line roles in infantry and special forces.

Related

rexfeatures_1389181h.jpg

Amanda Knox 'a she-devil,' says lawyer

sheep-hero.jpg

World's 10 weirdest beauty treatments

Women-on-the-front-line-2.jpg

Women on the front line

Comments

More

MP brings House of Commons to tears telling of childhood rape

“Rapes happen because of the rapist, not because of the victim.”

by Amy Swales
09 Dec 2016

Craig Revel Horwood apologises for controversial rape comments

The BBC has been urged to sack the Strictly judge

by Kayleigh Dray
09 Dec 2016

Adele has been crowned 2016’s biggest Youtube star

Sorry vloggers.

by Amy Lewis
09 Dec 2016

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

Emily Ratajkowski steps in for Santa while Taylor Swift's cat shares the spotlight

by Nicola Colyer
09 Dec 2016

Kate Moss takes centre stage as Elvis Presley in new tribute

"Anything for Elvis"

by Amy Lewis
09 Dec 2016

Isla Fisher praises Donald Trump as an inspiration to “orange people”

The actress also mocked Melania Trump for plagiarising Michelle Obama’s speech.

by Moya Crockett
08 Dec 2016

Keira Knightley on daughter’s four-letter reaction to Trump victory

19-month-old Edie sums up our feelings perfectly.

by Amy Lewis
08 Dec 2016

Danish aid worker tops list of world’s most inspiring people

Anja Ringgren Lovén is saving the lives of abandoned children in Nigeria

by Sarah Biddlecombe
08 Dec 2016

Rihanna: “We don’t need to be putting black women against each other”

Ri-Ri responds perfectly to rumours that she’s been feuding with Beyoncé.

by Moya Crockett
08 Dec 2016

Lauren Graham – aka Lorelai Gilmore – on finding love with her co-star

The Gilmore Girls actor admits it was their love of reading that brought them together

by Kayleigh Dray
08 Dec 2016