Moving forward after hanging up your uniform06 August 2019
The Tablelands Far North Queensland Women Veterans Network is seeking to address the unique challenges facing ex-service women.
With a family history in Defence stretching back to WWI, Pauline Lawrence, her husband, and many of their relatives have served in the armed forces. Today, Pauline's daughter is carrying on the family tradition of military service; she is currently serving and has just returned from a deployment in the Middle East. After serving in the Army for five years, Pauline found there was limited support available for her family obligations and chose to pursue an alternative career.
In 2016 - after witnessing the unique challenges facing many ex-serving women - Pauline founded the Tablelands Far North Queensland Women Veterans Network (Tablelands FNQWVN). According to Pauline, many female veterans feel disregarded after they discharge from the Australian Defence Force (ADF), mainly due to a lack of understanding of what a veteran is. "When they hang up their uniforms and leave the Force, many women feel forgotten. Speaking with a fellow female veteran who shares lived experiences validates both positive and negative experiences," Pauline says.
Run as a not-for-profit organisation within Malanda RSL Sub Branch, the Tablelands FNQWVN is also affiliated with the Women Veterans Network Australia and was created to empower female veterans in a spirit of cooperation, compassion and understanding. The network operates on the understanding that a veteran is anyone who has served in the ADF and welcomes all female Indigenous Australians and members of theLesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA) community.
The Malanda RSL Sub Branch functions as a meeting place for the Tablelands FNQWVN, but they are also developing digital means of communicating with veterans in remote areas. Pauline says newer veterans are less likely to have contact with ex-service organisations but are heavy users of online information, which is why Tablelands FNQWVN started a Facebook group. The group is an interactive and supportive online environment, where members can share resources and keep up to date with events and information.
This year, the Tablelands FNQWVN received funding from the Far North District RSL Sub Branches to hold a Women of Force Conference in Malanda on 14 September 2019, where the keynote speaker will be Sharon Bown.
Contact Sub Branch Secretary Ken Willoughby on 0437 410 575 or email TablelandsFNQWVN@gmail.com to join. For Women of Force Conference details click here.