Diversity in the Air Force

Air Force is an equal opportunity employer. We are proud to have a diverse workforce that brings a range of experiences and qualifications to the workplace.

Our ability to deliver airpower in the future depends on us having the best people for a wide range of Air Force jobs, regardless of gender, age or culture.  We need to ‘future-proof' Air Force with targeted programs that attract, recruit and retain the very best personnel.

“We need to make sure that young men and women finishing school have, at some point along the way, thought that Air Force would be a great place to work because they would be looked after, be excited, see long-term security, and be proud to wear the uniform.”

“Once they make that decision and feel that this is the place they want to be for some time, we need to assure them that the work they are doing is important: to pay them, house them, educate them and ensure they feel valued. 

“We want them to know that their height, religious background, skin colour, gender or specialisation doesn't matter. Everyone gets a fair go at a rewarding career.”

Air Marshal Leo Davies, AO, CSC

Air Force has implemented a range of initiatives to help personnel gain equal access to opportunities. Our diversity initiatives are constantly under review to ensure they are relevant, timely and inclusive.

Gender diversity

As at April 2017, women represent 20.1% of Air Force personnel.

We have a number of initiatives designed to increase gender diversity across all segments of the workforce, including education and personal development opportunities especially for women. 

In September 2014, we held our second Women's Development Forum with the theme “Capability through Inclusion”. This forum built on the foundation of the 2012 inaugural forum, themed “Surviving and Thriving in Non-Traditional Employment”. The forums offer a great opportunity for participants to engage with Air Force senior leaders. They also provide networking and development opportunities for both men and women.

From January 2015, women have been able to serve in all positions in Air Force, including Airfield Defence Guards and Ground Defence Officer roles, which were previously not open to women.

Indigenous participation

As of February 2017, Indigenous Australians represent 1.2% of Air Force personnel.

Specialist recruiting and retention initiatives are employed to attract, train and retain indigenous people from remote, regional and urban locations throughout Australia. For example, the Indigenous Undergraduate Scheme provides a number of university sponsorship positions each year with follow-on Air Force employment.

Our Land, Our Skies is an Air Force strategy that defines appropriate pathways for Indigenous participation. The strategy respects the importance of indigenous connections to people and place.

Ethnic participation and country of birth

Reflecting our multicultural Australian society, Air Force is represented by 13 major ethnic regions including 'Australian'. Five per cent of our workforce is bilingual. We are proud to have a diverse workforce and continue to develop strategies to increase ethnic diversity.

Religious participation

Air Force members identify with 50 recognised religions. Members are served by the Air Force Chaplain Branch which comprises chaplains from ten denominations.

The Air Force uniform is one of the traditions of Air Force service, creating a sense of belonging and pride for Air Force members. Air Force uniform options include turbans for members of the Sikh faith and Hijabs for members of the Muslim faith.

No matter which uniform our Air Force members wear, they wear their uniform with pride and inherit a proud tradition that was established by generations before us.

Members from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community

Air Force actively supports members of the LGBTI community through a range of measures.

We have worked hard to develop inclusive policies and entitlements that are not limited by a member's gender, personal circumstances or sexual orientation. Air Force actively supports personnel attendance at conferences and LGBTI community events, and has developed a guide which provides practical advice and support for LGBTI members in the Air Force. 

Engagement and cooperation with the wider Defence LGBTI community group, DEFGLIS, is an integral part of our ongoing diversity strategy.

Age participation

Air Force has expanded its recruiting and retention policies to incorporate a wider range of ages in the workplace.

Phased retirement initiatives are in place to encourage retention of experienced personnel. Older personnel can share their knowledge through reserve service between the ages of 60-65.