Soldiers being appointed to the most senior ranks of the Australian Defence Force will no longer need combat unit experience under changes flagged to increase female representation in the services.
Defence members convicted of a criminal offence, particularly a sexual crime, also face losing their jobs as the Government looks to strengthen measures to combat sexual harassment in the military.
These changes are outlined in the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner's second major report, released yesterday, into the treatment of women in Defence.
She also recommends sweeping changes in the way females are recruited and promoted.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith commissioned the report after what became known as the Australian Defence Force Academy Skype scandal, in which a female RAAF cadet having sex was unknowingly filmed by male students.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick made 21 recommendations for reform - all of which the Government agreed to in principle.
As _The West Australian _revealed in June, Defence is accelerating moves to lift gender bans on women in all combat roles and could introduce the first women to front-line jobs next year.
Among changes Ms Broderick demanded are that Defence chiefs should set targets for the number of women they aim to recruit into each service and build a "critical mass" of females in areas of the military where they are under- represented.
Crucially, the commissioner recommended abolishing rules that require the most senior ranks of the military to be selected from "combat corps codes" - meaning women serving in other areas of Defence could finally be promoted to the most senior roles such as head of the navy, air force or army.
Mr Smith rejected suggestions the changes might reduce the combat effectiveness of the military.
He said today's wars were high-tech affairs heavily reliant on expertise with computers.
"These things are not reliant on a participant's gender but a participant's aptitude," he said.
Though Federal Cabinet is yet to roll out its timetable for the complete opening up of combat jobs to women, Defence chief Gen. David Hurley has already given the green light to women already in the services applying for combat roles next year.
Gen. Hurley said Defence had already advertised internally for women interested in combat roles to come forward, but so far the take-up had been slow.
Women are barred from so-called "combat arms" jobs such as the infantry, artillery and special forces.
But women already staff a variety of dangerous front-line jobs.
They crew submarines along- side men and fly helicopters in Afghanistan.
The lift of the gender ban on combat jobs is supported by the Returned and Services League.
'These things are not reliant on a participant's gender but a participant's aptitude.'"Defence Minister
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