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Women In Service

 On 27 September 2011, it was announced that women will be allowed to serve in front line combat roles by 2016.Women became able to apply for all positions other than special forces roles in the Army on 1 January 2013; this remaining restriction removed in 2014 once the physical standards required for service in these units were determined. Women have been directly recruited into all front line combat positions since late 2016.

2016 is a significant year in the history of Australian Women’s military service. Not only did it mark the 75th anniversaries of the formation of auxiliary services across the Navy, Army and Air Force, it also marks the moment where Australian women, for the first time, were able to directly enlist into Australia’s military forces in full combat roles.

Full appreciation of the significance of this change requires an understanding of the barriers that prevented women from taking a more active role in Australia’s defence forces at any time prior. This includes the ways in which successive generations have successfully circumnavigated barriers to make their contribution possible.

Australian Womens Army Service marching in Sydney in 1942

Photo: Australian Women's Army Service marching in Sydney in 1942


Australian women’s involvement in military service began in 1898 with the formation of the Australian Nursing Service of New South Wales, with sixty nurses from the ANS serving in The Boer War. Their service was later incorporated into the Australian Army Nursing Service Reserve (AANSR) in 1902.