RECTIFYING AGE-OLD SOCIAL INJUSTICES AND INSTALLING BALANCE INTO OUR MORE SLANTED SECTORS OF SOCIETY HAS NEVER BEEN AN EASY PROCESS. BUT FOR THOSE WHO’VE OVERCOME THE OBSTACLES TO ACHIEVE THEIR AMBITIONS, IT MAKES THEIR SUCCESS JUST THAT LITTLE BIT SWEETER.
It’s been a labour of love, learning and empowerment for Sergeant Kylie Walters, who has seen many changes in her 18 years as a member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
Being part of a movement that will pave the way for future generations of women to climb the ranks free of biased binds is a point of pride for many in today’s armed forces. Those who’ve joined in recent times may not feel the burden that their female predecessors bore during their service to the nation. With women now making up 30 per cent of all enlisted ADF members, times are certainly changing.
“Like all industries we are learning, growing and adapting,” Kylie stated.
“Equality is seen in the number of strong female leaders we have across all levels of management within our organisation. I believe we are on the right path.”
It’s a path which has been under construction since World War II when women’s branches of the Army, Navy and Air Force were formed to assist with tasks that could be done from Australian shores.
The past 30 years has seen significant progress in the ADF with many previously male-only categories now open to female members.
In her current role as a Special Recruiter for Women, Kylie is pleased to report that Townsville is home to a host of inspired female leaders who are both role models and mentors for the ADF’s up and comers.
“I see women being passionate about change and actively making that difference; having an open-door policy and helping others, they enable authentic conversations and a space for talking,” Kylie explained.
“I have so many amazing girlfriends who are in extraordinary roles. When I deployed to Timor Leste there were women deployed with me fuelling Blackhawks, leading as operations managers and serving as combat medics.”
Kylie signed up to join the Navy when she was just 17 years old. After five years as a full-time member she decided to take a break but quite a few years later, age 34 to be exact, something set spark to the fire in her belly and she re-joined as a reservist. Within a year, she was back on board as a full-time soldier in what was a completely different landscape to her initial experience.
“Defence has evolved since I first joined and the opportunities for females are completely different,” she said.
“Now we have choices. I would have loved having the options that are available now when I first joined. In my role as a recruiter, I hope to empower women interested in a military career to pursue their goals. I want them to know how amazing the experience can be. You’re supported, you can further your education and access flexible working arrangements when you need them. It’s an empowering career choice.”
And it’s been nothing but for Kylie, who was recognised for her work while on deployment in Afghanistan and awarded a commendation.
“As an administrator, I supported our people from their arrival at the airport through to their departure following their operational tour,” she explained.
“I was known for my unique style of care and it was the highlight of my career. Having the privilege of caring for our soldiers and being awarded for it was amazing. I felt like I was making a real difference in this world. That is a huge thing for me.
I want to know that I make a difference.”