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Women in Services Forum

This exciting National forum and strategy session was developed to set the agenda for research into the health and wellbeing of Australia's servicewomen over the coming decade.

Hosted by The University of Adelaide's Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies and The Repat Foundation, the Women in Services Forum was held at The National Wine Centre on Monday February 17th, 2014. The Repat Foundation generously funded the attendance of keynote speaker, retired Brigadier General Rhonda Cornum, who was visiting Adelaide as part of the Wellbeing Sessions, supported by the South Australia Department of Premier and Cabinet. To hear an interview with Brigadier General Cornum on ABC Radio National, follow this link.

The event brought together established and emerging leaders to share knowledge and expertise, develop collaborative networks, and ultimately shape the future of research into the health and wellbeing of women across the services in Australia. Attendees included representatives from the Navy, Army and Air Force, as well as State Emergency Services, Ambulance Services, South Australian Police and the Metropolitan Fire Service. The forum also hosted a number of thought leaders in this field from national and international government agencies and departments, academia and the community. Key stakeholders from The University of Adelaide, Flinders University, The University of South Australia, Monash, University of Queensland, Government, Department of Veterans Affairs, Defence and the Australian Human Rights Commission attended.

The forum, opened by the CEO of the Repat Foundation, Ms Jan Chorley, and facilitated by Associate Professor Susan Neuhaus, commenced with a half-day session providing an overview of the state of research, practice and experience in the domain of servicewomen's health and wellbeing (presentations will be added to this page as they become available). The afternoon session was programmed with 4 expert discussion panels focussed on 4 key pillars: Female workforce capability; Female health; Support for women and families; and Female veteran/service identity. Participants engaged in cutting-edge discussions, to be published as part of the forum proceedings (this will material will be released on this site in the coming months).

The forum also provided several intentional opportunities for collaborative roundtable conversations throughout the day, with key objectives including identification of priority issues and strategies for moving forward in terms of furthering knowledge, evidence and practice regarding women in the services, in Australia. During the morning session, attendees workshopped a series of appreciative inquiry questions, the results of which are presented here, while the afternoon session involved small group discussion and prioritising in relation to panel themes, results of which are here.

Highlights

Keynote speaker, Retired Brigadier General Rhonda Cornum, spoke about her personal experiences as a servicewoman and female veteran, and her involvement in large scale health surveillance planning and implementation in the United States Department of Defense. Access the transcript here.

Three academic presentations, Dr Samantha Crompvoets from the Australian National University, and Dr Miranda Van Hooff and Dr Ellie Lawrence-Wood from The University of Adelaide's Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies, focussed on the current state of knowledge regarding the health and wellbeing of Australia's servicewomen and female veterans. Areas covered included the wellbeing of Australia's female servicewomen and veterans, challenges associated with female workforce involvement, mental health prevalence among ADF women, and impacts of active military service on female sexual and reproductive health.

Ms Marlene Krasovitsky from the Australian Human Rights Commission presented an overview of the findings from the Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force.

Ms Vivienne Moyle, Director of Research, Joint Health Command, Department of Defence, and Dr Steph Hodson and Ms Kyleigh Heggie from Department of Veteran's Affairs, presented the key research priorities, current and future research directions in the area of servicewomen's and female veteran's health.

Expert panel members for each of the four pillars included:

Ms Kerryn Smith (DCEO/GM Capability Development, Defence Teaming Centre), Professor Barbara Pocock (Director, UNISA Centre for Work + Life), Group Captain Margot Forster (Director, Personnel Coordination, Personnel Branch, Royal Australian Air Force), and Ms Toni Richardson (Volunteer Management, South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission) discussing female workforce capability.

Ms Lorraine Amos (General Manager, Metropolitan Emergency Operations, SA Ambulance), Ms Jane Abdilla (Welfare Programs, South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission), Lieutenant Colonel Melanie Cochbain (SO1, Personnel Operations, Headquarters Forces Command), Dr Simon Oldfield (Chief Land Division, Defence Science and Technology Organisation), and Dr Patricia Montanaro (President, Australian Medical Association, SA) discussing female specific health and wellbeing across the services.

Captain Amanda Garlick (Royal Australian Navy), Ms Jodie Zada (Area Manager, Defence Community Organisation SA), and Ms Julie Blackburn (Chairperson, Defence Health Foundation) covered the area of supporting women and families; and finally, retired Lieutenant Colonel Moose Dunlop (Trojans Trek Foundation), Ms Lucy Werner (Group Program Coordinator, Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service), and Dr Samantha Crompvoets (Australian National University) focussed on the development of female ‘veteran' and service identity. Summaries of the material from all panel discussions will be made available in the coming weeks.

Attendees and people who register their interest will be notified as the forum outcomes become available. You may also check this site for updates. For more information or to become involved please contact us at the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies.

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