Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Children spent a day in HMAS Stuart as they both visited the Philippines on missions of regional engagement.
Dr Sharman Stone spoke to a forum of officers and sailors about her role of ensuring that that gender equality and empowerment of women and girls is a central focus of Australia’s diplomatic, development and regional security efforts.
“The Royal Australian Navy, with its humanitarian assistance and regional outreach, can also help influence our neighbours as it supports our neighbours in these areas,” Dr Stone said.
“You’re at the pointy end showing the warfighting capabilities but you are also engaged in soft power as you showcase and build the reputation for gender equality and empowering women throughout your deployment in this region.”
Stuart is one of 11 vessels and more than 1000 personnel visiting regional partners including the Philippines, Malaysia, Japan and Korea for multinational exercises and regional engagement activities during the East Asia Deployment.
Stuart has among the highest percentage of female crew of all RAN vessels: 50 females in the 192-member ship’s company.
Leading Seaman Combat Systems Operator Stacey Hooper, who attended the forum, said she had witnessed the curiosity of other countries’ navies as they noticed female sailors staffing the gangway or attending official events.
“I do believe we are a good example of the Navy as we visit these countries and show good, strong female representation and integration, including females with higher authority,” Leading Seaman Hooper said.
Able Seaman Aviation Technician Annalise Butson, a single parent of 9-year-old Ross, shared with Ambassador Stone how the Navy had made it easy for her to train and to do her job.
“During Initial Training I was given permission to miss parade so I could drop my son off at school as I had no family support there.
“Later, at HMAS Albatross, I had flexible work arrangements for a period of time so I could take Ross to speech therapy sessions,” she said.