Women's Integrated Networking Groups (WINGS)

Most of the Air Force workforce can easily maintain regular networking and mentoring opportunities through everyday workplace interactions such as the crew room, brew room or office fireside chats with others in similar situations. However, members in underrepresented groups find it hard to build these support networks as they are normally the only one, or one of very few, in a similar situation.

One example is women in non-traditional roles, such as technical, engineering and aircrew. They may not get everyday opportunities in training and the workplace to meet other women and share their experiences.

The Women's Integrated Networking Group (WINGs) program brings women of all employment groups and ranks together to:

  • provide mutual support and advice for having a lasting career in the Air Force;

  • hear from guest speakers within Defence and external organisations about issues affecting women and their careers; and

  • create valuable networks (and hopefully friendships) with Air Force women from diverse geographical locations.

WINGs is a 10-month, locally delivered program for Air Force women, involving a 2-hour facilitated session once per month (between February-November). The sessions are generally held from 1100-1300, over the lunch period, to minimise impact on units and workloads. 

“The WINGS program forms an important step towards empowering women within Air Force and enabling them to build the support and mentoring networks required to sustain a long term career with Air Force. It also provides us with a direct feed into the workforce to test and evaluate initiatives and workforce issues, with a direct flow to senior Air Force leadership”

AIRCDRE Bob Rodgers

Women's Technical Network

TECHNET is a mentoring and networking group for airwomen in non-traditional roles. It offers an open environment for technical women to seek guidance, support and mentoring on a variety of topics for personal and professional development. TECHNET provides access to other technical and like minded women with a range of experience through rank, groups and life experiences.

It was formed in August 2012 due to the growing need for female technicians to stand together and break the glass ceiling instead of going it alone. The group meets approximately every 6-8 weeks for an hour. The success of TECHNET has been measured by the members feeling more empowered and included within their workplaces with knowledge of support by numbers behind them.

TECHNET also produces a newsletter with the latest thinking points and contacts for Units and greater Defence. Positive feedback has been received from far and wide with constant requests for distribution. The newsletter is sent to over 200 individuals and forwarded to many more.

Flying Females Breakfast

The ‘Flying Females' breakfast is held annually at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) to support the ADFA cadets who will be moving into a flying role. It gives female Air Force cadets (and other Services) an opportunity to meet and speak with senior Air Force leaders as well as women employed in aviation roles.

Women's Forum 2016: The Difference I Bring is the Value I Add

Held: 12-13 September 2016 in Canberra.

Focus: Creating change in the Air Force through education, and providing networking and development opportunities for champions of change.

Registrations: Approx. 150 (20% male).

Attendees: Members from Air Force, Navy, Army, Australian Public Service, the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and United States Forces.

Keynote addresses: LTCOL Jammie Jamieson (USAF); Mr Lance Hockridge (CEO Aurizon); and Ms Heidi Alexandra Pollard (UQ Power).

Panel discussions: Where to Now - Air Force 2020, and Become an Agent of Change in Your Workplace.

Outcome: The presentations, forums and discussions allowed gender diversity issues to be highlighted in a supportive environment and stimulated ongoing cultural change within the Air Force.

Women's Forum 2014: Capability Through Inclusion

Held: 17-18 September 2014 in Canberra.

Focus: Providing targeted training; enabling women to build networks and source female mentors (including access to Air Force's female senior leaders); and including men by seeking their perspectives and preparing them as change agents going back into the field.

Registrations: 165 (15% male).

Attendees: Air Force (PAF and Reserve), Navy, Army, Australian Public Service, the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Air Force (USAF).

Keynote addresses: Virginia Haussegger (ABC Journalist), Catherine Fox (Australian Financial Review), and Jane Caro (Editor of ‘Destroying the Joint - Why women need to change the world').

Outcome: The forum highlighted how Capability through Inclusion will play an integral part in the future sustainment of the Air Force. It focused on providing practical skills to women and men on how they can both influence change.

Women's Forum 2012: Surviving and Thriving in Non-Traditional Employment

Held: June 2012 (inaugural forum). 

Focus: Helping Air Force understand the unique challenges and opportunities experienced by women working in non-traditional employment fields.

Attendees: Air Force women and men, including senior leadership.

Topics covered: How Air Force is examining a range of strategies to attract more women into non-traditional roles, with a focus on aircrew, technical trade roles and engineering, and removing combat restrictions from airfield defence guard and ground defence officer roles. The forum included a senior leadership panel, with CAF, DCAF, ACAUST, DGPERS-AF and WOFF-AF, who addressed the concerns and questions of attendees.

Speakers: 12 leading men and women in the service and broader community covering a range of subjects from recruiting and retention to addressing the way ahead. Attendees also broke into working groups to examine the question of breaking recruiting and retention barriers.

Outcome: The event provided a platform for women to meet, build networks, discuss their careers, hear from subject matter experts and contribute to the direction of future gender initiatives for Air Force.

"The inaugural Women's Development Forum was an important step towards helping us to understand some of the unique challenges and opportunities experienced by women working in non-traditional fields within our organisation. Once we understand those challenges and opportunities, we can work towards building strategies that will encourage higher numbers of women to enter and remain in these important operational roles - because our future success will depend on it". 

Air Marshal Leo Davies

Chief of Air Force