Navy Chief says diversity is essential to optimal capability

Published on Mr Pup Elliott (author and photographer)

The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, AO, CSC , RAN chairs the inaugural  meeting  of the Navy’s Diversity Forum at HMAS Creswell on 31 May 2014. With him are (left) Deputy Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Michael van Balen,  Warrant Officer Stuart O'Brien, Captain Mona Shindy; (right) Chief Petty Officer Ray Rosendale, Commander Wendy Gould and Warrant Officer of the Navy Martin Holzberger.  (photo: Mr Pup Elliott)
The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, AO, CSC , RAN chairs the inaugural meeting of the Navy’s Diversity Forum at HMAS Creswell on 31 May 2014. With him are (left) Deputy Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Michael van Balen, Warrant Officer Stuart O'Brien, Captain Mona Shindy; (right) Chief Petty Officer Ray Rosendale, Commander Wendy Gould and Warrant Officer of the Navy Martin Holzberger.

The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, chaired the inaugural meeting of the Navy Diversity Forum at HMAS Creswell last Friday, with his strategic advisors on Women’s, Indigenous, Islamic and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex matters.

One key area of Vice Admiral Griggs’s focus since assuming the position of Chief of Navy has been on ensuring Navy’s diversity discussions are, themselves, diverese. 

Over the last three years he has been putting in place strategic advisors to ensure that Navy’s diversity discussion is broader than it had been in the past. His objective has been to ensure that Navy is as reflective of Australian society as it can be, through the conduct of all of its activities.

One of the greatest challenges, though, is in getting people to believe that this approach is actually about enhancing Navy’s capability and not some exercise in political correctness.

It is beyond dispute in all the academic literature that a more diverse team ensures different perspectives are covered and generally results in a better outcome for the organisation.

The Navy Diversity Forum is designed to be an opportunity for the Chief of Navy to regularly discuss the key diversity issues in Navy with his strategic advisers.

It is also very important that the four advisers cross pollinate ideas and understand what is happening in each others areas of responsibility and recognise opportunities to synchronise their efforts.

“I have seen some excellent work to date in the diversity field led by the strategic advisers,” Vice Admiral Griggs said.

Some of the major achievements have included:

·        Changes to the uniform regulations to allow the use of Islamic headdress;

·        The creation of the Navy Indigenous performance Group which has already drawn international interest;

·        Expansion of our Women’s mentoring program;

·        Deeper engagement with the Indigenous, Islamic and LGBTI communities;

·        Development of Islamic cultural education material for ship’s deploying to work with ‘Muslim’ navies;

·        Establishment of a new Navy Cadet unit in western Sydney aimed at a more culturally diverse membership;

·        Progression of understanding the challenges of performing the primary care giving role and having a sustainable sea going career.

“While we have a way to go, we have made very good progress; it is crucial that we have a balanced approach to diversity and that no single issue disproportionately skews the debate. Events such as this forum will help ensure the whole diversity discussion is kept in balance,” Vice Admiral Griggs said.