For the first time in the southern hemisphere, an Australian Defence Force Operational Gender Adviser Course was conducted by Headquarters Joint Operations Command at the Peace Keeping Operational Training Centre at the Australian Defence Force Academy in June.
Gender Adviser, Colonel Amanda Fielding said since the introduction of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 - Women, Peace and Security into the planning and conduct of Australian Defence Force operations, the demand for the Australian gender adviser capability had grown beyond the current trained assets.
“This has meant in the past couple of years any Defence member who has been identified to deploy as a gender adviser has had to have been trained and briefed by the Headquarters Joint Operations Command gender adviser before the deployment,” Colonel Fielding said.
“Not surprisingly this has grown beyond the capacity of the Joint Operations Command gender adviser to achieve.
“As a consequence, Joint Operations Command initiated a performance-needs analysis to seek a training solution.”
Colonel Fielding said the only training that had been available was conducted at the Nordic Training Centre for Gender in Military Operations, at the Swedish Armed Forces International Centre, designed to train NATO and partner forces as operational gender advisers.
“NATO has supported the training of six to eight Australian Defence Force members as Gender Advisers per calendar year,” Colonel Fielding said.
“This has been insufficient to meet growing demand. The most recent demand was for 11 Australian and US Gender Advisers to be deployed on Exercise TALISMAN SABRE.”
The role of a Defence Operational Gender Adviser is to provide advice to a commander and staff on the implementation of Resolution 1325 into the planning and conduct of operations and exercises.
Colonel Fielding said the capability was designed to enhance operational effectiveness through better understanding the impact the Australian Defence Force can have on a population.
She said gender roles and power relations played a key role in our engagement, interactions and operations with local populations, other partner forces and agencies.
“Failing to acknowledge these roles can lead to forces taking risks and causing offence when it could have otherwise been avoided through the conduct of a gender analysis,” she said.
Navy Reserve Lieutenant Commander Lisa Steele attended the pilot course, before participating in TALISMAN SABRE as a gender adviser.
“The course has given me a better understanding of the agenda and how to undertake the role of a Gender Adviser in an operational setting,” Lieutenant Commander Steele said.
“I enjoyed the chance to learn from really interesting people with such extensive knowledge and experience.
“I hope to get an opportunity in the future to deploy on a United Nations mission.”
Colonel Fielding said it was critical the Australian Defence Force created a community that could work together and be effective in any operating environment.
She said the aim was to conduct the course twice a year.