International Womens Day, the perfect opportunity for the majority of Royal Australian Air Force women currently posted to RAAF Base Tindal to gather for the local launch of the Womens Integrated Networking Group, or "WINGS" a group formed to provide supp

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, women 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 generally every 6-8 weeks (between February-November). The sessions are generally held from 1100-1300, over the lunch period, to minimise impact on units and workloads.
Supporting delivery of the Air Force Strategy (AFSTRAT) 2020, CAF Intent, and Enhanced Career Management, WINGs offers ongoing opportunities for Air Force women at all stages of their career to optimise their potential by strengthening professional networks, engaging in supportive and nurturing forums where individuals can share experiences, and discuss strategies and tips/tools. WINGs also provides all Air Force members with the opportunity to participate in discussions around workforce diversity as part of continuing to evolve our inclusive culture.
- DGPERS-AF and WINGs Program Sponsor, AIRCDRE Karen Ashworth, CSC

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

Ex Chief of Air Force