Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
General Hurley discusses changing role of wom -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

Defence Force chief General David Hurley says the services have been gradually introducing women to
more roles and are now ready to consider women in front-line combat positions.

Transcript

ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: To discuss the end of discrimination against women in the defence forces, I
was joined a short time ago by our Parliament House studio by Defence Force chief, General David
Hurley. General David Hurley, welcome to Lateline.

DAVID HURLEY, DEFENCE FORCE CHIEF: Ali, thank you very much for having me.

ALI MOORE: Until now women have been excluded from some 7 per cent of jobs in defence on the basis
of their gender. What has been the official reason for those exclusions?

DAVID HURLEY: Well, we have exemptions under the Sex Discrimination Act that date back until about
the mid-1980s - they were put in place.

But since 1992 we have been gradually broadening the range of appointments that women can undertake
in the Defence Force, initially to combat related - and now I think after a 20 year journey where
at the point to broaden that to all appointments.

ALI MOORE: But in terms of the official reasons given for those 7 per cent of jobs that are
excluded at the moment, what are they? Are they issues such as physical strength, is that the main
argument?

DAVID HURLEY: It's been primarily around the fact that they are combat-related; so direct
application of violence in the battlefield, and concerns about physical standards, yes.

ALI MOORE: This implementation of opening up all positions is going to take five years. Why so
long?

DAVID HURLEY: Well, Ali, we need to build up cohorts of women who might be interested in
undertaking these employments. We need to build those cohorts because that gives them the support
mechanisms they need as they develop; and if women come in today, for example, and wanted to go to
infantry, well, it is nearly a 12 month journey before you get there, and that brings you to, say
private level.

We also need to build rank structures, so that might be looking at women who want to move from
current employments to these new employments, we need to train them up as well. So it takes a bit
of time to build the support structures.

ALI MOORE: Are the physical benchmarks already in place? It was, I think, 2009 Greg Combet
announced that there would be physical benchmarks regardless of gender. Are they already in
position?

DAVID HURLEY: We'll complete that work by the end of this year, but that's pretty much done and
dusted, so it's really putting the final touches to that; and then we'll take those new physical
employment standards into our implementation plans from next year on.

ALI MOORE: What about the psychological capacity part of this as well - are you already using a
sort of psychological test to assess people's appropriateness for particular jobs?

DAVID HURLEY: Well Ali, this is all about people's suitability for jobs. We're not mandating that
people go there, it's not compulsory that women go to these appointments. So, this is a gender-free
approach we're taking: that if you're suitable to the job, then you can go and do it.

ALI MOORE: But I'm asking in terms of the physical benchmarks almost in place - now "done and
dusted", as you say - are the psychological benchmarks at the same standing at this point?

DAVID HURLEY: Yes, it's the same approach we would take for assessing people to go to any of those
particular traits.

ALI MOORE: And will the standards be the same for men and women?

DAVID HURLEY: Yes.

ALI MOORE: So that would mean, for example - I've got in front of me the Army basic fitness
assessments - they are different for men and women?

DAVID HURLEY: Yes, but this is the point of these new standards. These new standards will apply to
each job. If you're good enough and meet those standards, then you can apply and be accepted into
those employments. So, those basic fitness assessments and so forth will all be worked through over
the next number of years to bring those to a gender free specification.

ALI MOORE:Warren Snowdon said today that not all in the Defence Force will like the new regime. Do
you agree?

DAVID HURLEY: I certainly do. I think we will find a variety of reactions amongst the members of
the ADF. There will be those who won't agree with it, those who will strongly support it.

ALI MOORE: And I suppose those who don't agree with it - how do you address those concerns?

DAVID HURLEY: Well, this is one of the reasons why we need to be conservative in our approach to
transitioning from where we are today. This is a big step in a cultural sense; it's a big
management challenge for the ADF at all levels to bring the organisation along behind this.

ALI MOORE: And what do you think will be the main concerns of those who are in the negative camp?

DAVID HURLEY: There will be the concerns you normally read in the media about, "Are women up to it?
We'll have to look after them" - those sorts of positions at the emotional end.

Then there will be simply some who will say that they cannot physically do it. To those people, we
say this is all about setting physical standards that if you achieve them, you can do the job. Move
on with it.

ALI MOORE: Are you confident that, by the end of the five years, you will have everyone on board?
Because that's essential isn't it? You can't have women in these final 7 per cent of positions
working alongside men who are not happy?

DAVID HURLEY: Well, we'll never get 100 per cent, but I'm sure that the programs we will put in
place will drive us there to have this being just part and parcel of daily work in the Defence
Force.

ALI MOORE: Is this also part of, I guess, Defence culture in terms of treatment of women within the
Forces? Elizabeth Broderick, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, is doing a review into exactly
that issue. How do you see the two working together, if you like?

DAVID HURLEY: They are separate issues, but obviously they are connected.

One is about the employment of women - so what opportunities do we give to women for employment in
the ADF for career progression and so forth, and are all the policies in place to allow them to
succeed.

The other is about, as you say, culture, behaviour, attitudes in the organisation. We'll await
Elizabeth's report, but I'm very confident that the ADF will come out well in those reports.

ALI MOORE: You don't think there is a cultural problem within Defence in the way it treats women?

DAVID HURLEY: I approach this from a number of perspectives, Ali.

When we talk about culture in the ADF, when I talk about culture in the ADF, I talk about it in
terms of things we need to sustain and things we need to improve. We need to sustain the culture
that allows us to be successful in the battlefield, no matter how complex or whatever place in the
world. It's a culture that allows us to - over Christmas time, for example in Queensland and
Victoria - to get 2,000 to 3,000 people out of their Christmas leave to come and assist fellow
Australians.

It is a culture ... if you go to any community in Australia where there is an ADF base, you will
find us out there, heading up P&Cs, running Girl Guides, training football teams and so forth;
being part of the community, committed to the community. That is the positive side of our culture.

There is a negative side where we don't apply the value of the organisations evenly or as well as
we can.

That's the issue that we'll concentrate ... and I'm sure that Elizabeth's and the other cultural
reviews will indicate to us some places where our programs aren't right, where we need to create
more space for them; but I don't think they will turn around and say that the ADF is a failed
organisation.

ALI MOORE: Do you think that at the end of this five year implementation phase, that these changes
will make a difference to defence capabilities?

DAVID HURLEY: Look, I'm sure they will. If women are out there who want to undertake these types of
employments - they've got their talent, they will bring more to the organisation than we will lose.

ALI MOORE: General David Hurley, many thanks for taking the time to talk to Lateline tonight.

DAVID HURLEY: Ali, thank you.

Defence Force chief General David Hurley says the services have been gradually introducing women to
more roles and are now ready to consider women in front-line combat positions.

Transcript

ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: To discuss the end of discrimination against women in the defence forces, I
was joined a short time ago by our Parliament House studio by Defence Force chief, General David
Hurley. General David Hurley, welcome to Lateline.

DAVID HURLEY, DEFENCE FORCE CHIEF: Ali, thank you very much for having me.

ALI MOORE: Until now women have been excluded from some 7 per cent of jobs in defence on the basis
of their gender. What has been the official reason for those exclusions?

DAVID HURLEY: Well, we have exemptions under the Sex Discrimination Act that date back until about
the mid-1980s - they were put in place.

But since 1992 we have been gradually broadening the range of appointments that women can undertake
in the Defence Force, initially to combat related - and now I think after a 20 year journey where
at the point to broaden that to all appointments.

ALI MOORE: But in terms of the official reasons given for those 7 per cent of jobs that are
excluded at the moment, what are they? Are they issues such as physical strength, is that the main
argument?

DAVID HURLEY: It's been primarily around the fact that they are combat-related; so direct
application of violence in the battlefield, and concerns about physical standards, yes.

ALI MOORE: This implementation of opening up all positions is going to take five years. Why so
long?

DAVID HURLEY: Well, Ali, we need to build up cohorts of women who might be interested in
undertaking these employments. We need to build those cohorts because that gives them the support
mechanisms they need as they develop; and if women come in today, for example, and wanted to go to
infantry, well, it is nearly a 12 month journey before you get there, and that brings you to, say
private level.

We also need to build rank structures, so that might be looking at women who want to move from
current employments to these new employments, we need to train them up as well. So it takes a bit
of time to build the support structures.

ALI MOORE: Are the physical benchmarks already in place? It was, I think, 2009 Greg Combet
announced that there would be physical benchmarks regardless of gender. Are they already in
position?

DAVID HURLEY: We'll complete that work by the end of this year, but that's pretty much done and
dusted, so it's really putting the final touches to that; and then we'll take those new physical
employment standards into our implementation plans from next year on.

ALI MOORE: What about the psychological capacity part of this as well - are you already using a
sort of psychological test to assess people's appropriateness for particular jobs?

DAVID HURLEY: Well Ali, this is all about people's suitability for jobs. We're not mandating that
people go there, it's not compulsory that women go to these appointments. So, this is a gender-free
approach we're taking: that if you're suitable to the job, then you can go and do it.

ALI MOORE: But I'm asking in terms of the physical benchmarks almost in place - now "done and
dusted", as you say - are the psychological benchmarks at the same standing at this point?

DAVID HURLEY: Yes, it's the same approach we would take for assessing people to go to any of those
particular traits.

ALI MOORE: And will the standards be the same for men and women?

DAVID HURLEY: Yes.

ALI MOORE: So that would mean, for example - I've got in front of me the Army basic fitness
assessments - they are different for men and women?

DAVID HURLEY: Yes, but this is the point of these new standards. These new standards will apply to
each job. If you're good enough and meet those standards, then you can apply and be accepted into
those employments. So, those basic fitness assessments and so forth will all be worked through over
the next number of years to bring those to a gender free specification.

ALI MOORE:Warren Snowdon said today that not all in the Defence Force will like the new regime. Do
you agree?

DAVID HURLEY: I certainly do. I think we will find a variety of reactions amongst the members of
the ADF. There will be those who won't agree with it, those who will strongly support it.

ALI MOORE: And I suppose those who don't agree with it - how do you address those concerns?

DAVID HURLEY: Well, this is one of the reasons why we need to be conservative in our approach to
transitioning from where we are today. This is a big step in a cultural sense; it's a big
management challenge for the ADF at all levels to bring the organisation along behind this.

ALI MOORE: And what do you think will be the main concerns of those who are in the negative camp?

DAVID HURLEY: There will be the concerns you normally read in the media about, "Are women up to it?
We'll have to look after them" - those sorts of positions at the emotional end.

Then there will be simply some who will say that they cannot physically do it. To those people, we
say this is all about setting physical standards that if you achieve them, you can do the job. Move
on with it.

ALI MOORE: Are you confident that, by the end of the five years, you will have everyone on board?
Because that's essential isn't it? You can't have women in these final 7 per cent of positions
working alongside men who are not happy?

DAVID HURLEY: Well, we'll never get 100 per cent, but I'm sure that the programs we will put in
place will drive us there to have this being just part and parcel of daily work in the Defence
Force.

ALI MOORE: Is this also part of, I guess, Defence culture in terms of treatment of women within the
Forces? Elizabeth Broderick, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, is doing a review into exactly
that issue. How do you see the two working together, if you like?

DAVID HURLEY: They are separate issues, but obviously they are connected.

One is about the employment of women - so what opportunities do we give to women for employment in
the ADF for career progression and so forth, and are all the policies in place to allow them to
succeed.

The other is about, as you say, culture, behaviour, attitudes in the organisation. We'll await
Elizabeth's report, but I'm very confident that the ADF will come out well in those reports.

ALI MOORE: You don't think there is a cultural problem within Defence in the way it treats women?

DAVID HURLEY: I approach this from a number of perspectives, Ali.

When we talk about culture in the ADF, when I talk about culture in the ADF, I talk about it in
terms of things we need to sustain and things we need to improve. We need to sustain the culture
that allows us to be successful in the battlefield, no matter how complex or whatever place in the
world. It's a culture that allows us to - over Christmas time, for example in Queensland and
Victoria - to get 2,000 to 3,000 people out of their Christmas leave to come and assist fellow
Australians.

It is a culture ... if you go to any community in Australia where there is an ADF base, you will
find us out there, heading up P&Cs, running Girl Guides, training football teams and so forth;
being part of the community, committed to the community. That is the positive side of our culture.

There is a negative side where we don't apply the value of the organisations evenly or as well as
we can.

That's the issue that we'll concentrate ... and I'm sure that Elizabeth's and the other cultural
reviews will indicate to us some places where our programs aren't right, where we need to create
more space for them; but I don't think they will turn around and say that the ADF is a failed
organisation.

ALI MOORE: Do you think that at the end of this five year implementation phase, that these changes
will make a difference to defence capabilities?

DAVID HURLEY: Look, I'm sure they will. If women are out there who want to undertake these types of
employments - they've got their talent, they will bring more to the organisation than we will lose.

ALI MOORE: General David Hurley, many thanks for taking the time to talk to Lateline tonight.

DAVID HURLEY: Ali, thank you.