Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - RACHEL RI­LEY rachel. ri­ley@ news. com. au

A PAS­SION­ATE on­line de­bate has erupted over claims the Aus­tralian De­fence Force is fo­cused on re­cruit­ing women to meet bold em­ploy­ment tar­gets.

News Corp yes­ter­day re­vealed the weekly tar­gets sent out to ADF re­cruiters showed no tar­gets for men in 35 of 50 army po­si­tions but the in­struc­tion to “re­cruit im­me­di­ately” if a woman came for­ward for com­bat roles such as ar­moured cav­alry.

In re­sponse, the ADF put out a state­ment say­ing: “All roles in the Aus­tralian De­fence Force ( ADF) are open for men and women to ap­ply.” But an ADF re­cruiter told News Corp: “Yes they can ap­ply — but only women will get the job.”

The ADF con­firmed it had set goals for fe­male par­tic­i­pa­tion rates of 15 per cent for the army and 25 per cent for the navy and air force by 2023.

In one key as­pect, Townsville’s 3rd Brigade al­ready beats the army par­tic­i­pa­tion rates with a quar­ter of the city’s eight units hav­ing fe­male com­mand­ing of­fi­cers.

Lieu­tenant Colonel Jen­nifer Har­ris, Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer of the 3rd Com­bat En­gi­neer Reg­i­ment, led the Emer­gency Sup­port Force for Cy­clone Deb­bie.

Lieu­tenant Colonel Gabrielle Fol­lett, Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer of the 3rd Com­bat Ser- vice Sup­port Bat­tal­ion, held a key lead­er­ship role with Bat­tle Group Can­nan in Ex­er­cise Tal­is­man Sabre.

“De­fence has in­tro­duced ini­tia­tives to help us at­tract the best tal­ent from the widest pos­si­ble tal­ent pool,” the De­fence state­ment read.

“While De­fence main­tains tar­gets to en­cour­age greater par­tic­i­pa­tion of women, ev­ery can­di­date must meet the re­quired stan­dards. Suc­cess­ful can­di­dates are se­lected based on merit and their ca­pac­ity to do the work, not on their gen­der.”

This week, 3rd Brigade Com­man­der Bri­gadier Chris Field held the first North Queens­land Women’s Lead­er­ship Fo­rum, an event he in­sti­gated, and spoke of the ADF’s goal to foster lead­er­ship and the men­tor­ing of women in the mil­i­tary and wider com­mu­nity.

“Our in­ten­tion is that we al­low peo­ple to share their tal­ents with the world and reach their own per­sonal pro­fes­sional po­ten­tial,” he said on Wed­nes­day.

“We be­lieve di­ver­sity is a great ac­cel­er­a­tor of suc­cess.”

The Bul­letin’s Face­book page was in­un­dated with com­ments, spark­ing heated de­bate.

“Dis­crim­i­na­tion ... how can they get away with this ... the mines are do­ing it ... ev­ery­where is do­ing it ... I worry

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