HMAS Leeuwin, currently conducting her second deployment for the year, has hosted a round table discussion about Women in Peace and Security, focussing on Women in Maritime, while alongside Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.
The conversation focused around the promotion of women in seagoing and deployed roles and some of the problems still faced by women in navies across the world, including issues relating to peer support, medical assistance and limited berthing options in ships.
Guests from the Federated States of Micronesia included Norleen Oliver, Chief of Social Affairs at the FSM Department of Health and Social Affairs; Emy Musrasik, Director of Court Administration for the FSM Supreme Court; and Dion Bernard, Senior Project Manager at the Australian Embassy; as well as personnel from the Australian and US Embassy staffs and the US Coast Guard Cutter Kiska.
Attendees from Leeuwin’s crew ranged in rank from Seaman to Lieutenant Commander, and included personnel from every department of the ship.
Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics - Personnel Operations Kelly Goosen appreciated the opportunity to hear the experiences of women from a variety of backgrounds in a supportive environment.
“It was really nice that everyone felt like they could open up about the issues they face, and that everyone could support each other in sharing their experiences,” Leading Seaman Goosen said.
“Some of the stories were really eye opening and beautiful to hear.
“We are lucky in Australia to not be dealing with the same difficulties in progressing our careers, or balancing careers and families.
“We are also really fortunate to be able to talk freely to our peers about issues we face in our personal lives,” she said.
Lieutenant Commander Kylie McNamara, soon to be Leeuwin’s Executive Officer, believes events of this kind are critical to international engagement, and that encouraging participation of women in peace and security roles is critical to joint efforts to achieve regional stability and security.
“Encouraging these discussions is hugely valuable for all personnel in military, policing and governmental organisations,” Lieutenant Commander McNamara said.
“Maritime roles in particular have specific challenges for women - we need to actively support each other, regardless of our country of origin. We all experience similar problems - sharing our stories and the way in which we have overcome difficulties in our careers and lived is valuable to all of us.”
Leeuwin arrived in Pohnpei in time for the recent inauguration of President David W Panuelo and the ship remained in the Federated States of Micronesia for a few days of regional engagement activities and respite prior to beginning her journey home to Cairns.