Home' Air Force News : July 21st 2011 Contents JOINT WARFARE
12-13 October 2011
The inaugural Joint Warfare Conference will focus on the
development of joint capability against the backdrop of current
operations. Day one of the program will address joint capability
concepts and challenges, and day two will be delivered from a joint
Current international perspectives from the United Kingdom, United
States and Singapore will be presented and broad international
attendance is anticipated.
The conference will be of particular interest to those engaged in the
employment or development of capabilities with significant joint
aspects. Places are filling quickly so interested parties are
encouraged to register via the conference website at:
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July 21, 2011
There are some things that we can all
do to try to make our workplace interac-
tions less assumption-based and more
inclusive of all personnel, irrespective
of their gender, sexual orientation, life
stage and lifestyle:
Think about how you frame your per-
sonal questions and statements.
Social interactions and developing
friendships with our peers is what makes
our organisation such a fantastic place
to work. However, try to think about your
own automatic assumptions before ask-
ing a personal question. For example, in a
conversation with a new colleague or staff
member, asking if they have a partner is a
more assumption-free question than ask-
ing if they are married. And if they do have
a partner, you might ask what they do for
a living instead of automatically assuming
the partner is of the opposite sex. This
applies to a range of social scenarios -- try
to think before you ask.
Let others volunteer personal informa-
tion to you.
This point relates to the previous
point; sometimes even fairly innocent
questions might hurt, offend or alienate.
For example, asking somebody "how old
are your kids?" or "do you have kids?"
are not normally hurtful questions, but
they may be very distressing to a mem-
ber who is suffering from fertility issues
or has lost a child. Work-based friend-
ships are obviously based on getting to
know somebody at a personal level, but
sometimes it may be wise to wait until
personal information is given voluntarily.
Check to make sure any planned
social activities are not based on
The DEFGLIS article cited the exam-
ple of a barbecue for the wives to meet
each other, which clearly assumes that
a) all partners must be women and
b) that all members must be married.
Check to make sure that any planned
social activities and invitations to activi-
ties encompass members/families who
may not fit into your assumed construct
of a typical family.
Check lesson plans and instructor
guides to ensure training scenarios
encompass a range of different family/
To educate others that there are many
different types of people, families and life-
styles in the ADF, instructional staff should
endeavour to make sure that they are
not perpetuating any assumptions when
designing training packages at all levels of
training. COs might consider asking their
training staff to run an 'assumption check'
to ensure there is a balanced approach
taken in all areas of our training.
Remind personnel about their own
assumptions in the workplace.
If you notice other members of
staff are expressing assumptions that
may alienate some staff, speak up and
try to guide others regarding how their
assumptions may be impacting others.
Often people may be quite unaware of
how their statements, questions and
activities may serve to alienate and
offend their co-workers/staff.
IN A recent Defence Gay &
Lesbian Information Service
(DEFGLIS) newsletter article,
an Army sergeant discussed the
heterosexist nature of Defence's
He noted the automatic assump-
tion by his peers that, at his age and
life-stage, he must have a wife to
bring along to social functions and
make cakes for morning tea.
While this article targeted the
subtle and overt exclusions faced by
members who differ from the pre-
dominant heterosexual nature of the
ADF, it made me think about a range
of other types of assumptions that
are made every day, and how con-
fronting it must be for all members
who do not fit into the standard ste-
reotypical model of a heterosexual
ADF family comprising of a (male)
husband, (female) wife and kids.
Here are some very common
assumptions that probably cause irri-
tation on a daily basis:
Don't make assumptions,
be careful what you say
WGCDR Dee Gibbon of Workforce Flexibility and
Diversity provides advice on how we can move beyond
assumptions towards a more inclusive ADF.
That if you are older and married,
you must have children.
That if you don't have children,
you must want them/or couldn't
That if you are older, you are mar-
That if you are single, or have
never been married, you don't
That if you have a long-term
partner, you are either married, or
intending to become married.
That if you have a partner, they
must be of the opposite sex.
That if you don't have a partner,
you must be looking for one or
there is something wrong with
There are probably many more
than those on this list, but it certainly
makes you appreciate just how many
of our social interactions and activi-
ties are based on what is considered
the norm in Defence life.
Our senior leaders are working
hard towards building an ADF work-
place that is free from marginalisa-
tion, accepting of difference and
inclusive of all members who seek
to serve their country as uniformed
or civilian members of Defence.
Avoiding any behaviours/actions
that may alienate or offend any
personnel, however unintended, is
a step toward building the type of
ADF that will continue to attract the
best and brightest talent both now
and in the future.
The DEFGLIS website at www.
defglis.com.au provides information,
education and support on gay, lesbian,
bisexual, intersex and transgender
issues for Defence staff.
Photo: AB Jo Dilorenzo
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