AFP sets 30% sworn-female workforce target

By Shannon Jenkins

Monday May 10, 2021

AFP headquarters, Canberra.
The arrest was by made by officers of AFP’s Operation Wilmot. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) says it will recruit hundreds of female officers in the coming years under a new sworn-female workforce target of 30% by 2028.

Newly appointed home affairs minister Karen Andrews and AFP commissioner Reece Kershaw announced the target on Friday, which they said would help the AFP ‘build greater diversity of thought and skills’ in the fight against crime. They also announced the launch of a new recruitment website that showcases female role models in a bid to inspire women to join the force.

Sworn women — including police and protective service officers — currently comprise 22% of the AFP. That’s a 2% increase since 2016.

Kershaw noted that recent AFP research identified a misconception, particularly among women, that combating crime was primarily achieved with physical force.

“While some women viewed that as a barrier to pursuing a career with the AFP, not all women do. At the end of the day we want to offer choices to our personnel,” he said.

READ MORE: AFP ‘trying to correct 200-plus years of systemic bias’ against women

The commissioner said increasing and retaining the number of female sworn officers within the AFP was one of his priorities when he took on the role in 2019.

“Diversity makes the AFP stronger and more successful. Different perspectives, different cultures and lived experiences are integral to a modern police agency,” he said.

“The AFP already has a number of senior, experienced women within the organisation and incredible women coming through the ranks, but we want and need to do better.”

The AFP also wants to attract more people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, including Indigenous Australians.

“The benefit of diversity challenges the status quo, it helps with problem solving, especially during investigations,” Kershaw said.

Andrews said increased female representation in law enforcement and national security roles was good for women and society as a whole.

“My message for any young woman or girl considering such a career is simple: ‘apply’,” she said.

“Apply your skills, expertise, imagination, and perspective to the serious challenges we face as a nation.”

READ MORE: How the AFP responded to staff gender equality concerns


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