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Senate Estimates: Vice-Chief of the Defence Force speaks about transgender service

2017 10 27 Griggs

The Vice Chief of the Defence Force and senior Defence leaders spoke on transgender service and recruitment at Senate Estimates this week.

Here is the transcript of what was said:

Vice Chief of the Defence Force - Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, AO, CSC RAN

We are talking about our people.

These are people who are wearing the uniform of this country and serving this country.

They deserve to be treated with the respect that any other member of the Australian Defence Force is treated with.

They deserve to have appropriate medical treatment that any other of the Defence Force has.

They deserve to have appropriate medical treatment in line with other members of the community.

And all those things is exactly what happens in the way that we manage gender gysphoria.

Gender dysphoria is a mental health condition.

It's a resolvable mental health condition, it sometimes requires surgery and sometimes it doesn't.

The aim here is not to lose talented individuals whom we have spent many, many millions of dollars in training.

Many millions ... many, many times more than one million dollars-worth of treatment.

I have found the public debate to be almost bordering on hysterical, and very unhelpful for our people who are managing their way through this.

That is the basis of our diversity and inclusion approach.

Why do we do this, we believe, and you only have to look at any management literature, that a diverse team is a more capable team. That is the basis of our position and has been for a number of years.

We could quite rightly have been accused of being slow in the upttake of that.

In the last few years we have been very consistent.

Diversity and inclusion is a capability issue.

We have tried to manage these issues as sensibly as we can. We know that they are issues that draw strong reactions across the community and there are a wide range of views.

Our aim is to be sensible and consistent, along the lines that we fundamentally believe that a diverse workforce is a more capable one.

We're a team based organisation.

Even a fighter pilot alone on their own in an aircraft has a team behind them that gets them into the air.

We can only fight and win - which is what we're on about - for those who say we're not on about that, I totally reject that.

We are focussed in fighting and winning as a team, and we can only do that, like any team, if we respect each other, if we respect each others capabilities and skills.

In response to a question on the recruitment of transgender personnel:

We have a very clear position around people who are applying to join the ADF who have gender dysphoria.

If they have an active condition, then they are not considered at that time fit to enter the Australian Defence Force.

If they have had their condition resolved, then they are considered to be able to join the ADF.

I believe and I'm sure AVM Smart would agree, that our screening does pick up these issues.


Commander of Joint Health and Surgeon-General of the Australian Defence Force - Air Vice Marshal Tracy Smart, AM 

Our policy towards gender dysphoria management is the same as any policy toward any medical condition.

From recruiting, our screening is the same. We take a a detailed history that includes all aspects of medical and psychological conditions.

This is a condition looked at in recruiting.

If its identified, further advice is sought from specialists as to the nature of where they are in that transition processs.

If they have completed transition and resolved therefore their gender dysphoria, they are recruited into the adf.

If they haven't, like those with other chronic illness or any condition, they are told they can't be recruited at that stage.

But once that condition has been resolved or has stabalised, and we are satisfied they are fit to serve, then we can bring them in at a later date.

In response to a question on the deployability of transgender personnel:

Chief of the Army - LTGEN Angus Campbell, AO, DSC

All soldiers who serve are trained and are able to conduct operations and to defend themselves and their teams, no matter what they job or employment status on operations.

Every person who is a deployable member of the Army, is a soldier able to conduct operations.

File Image by Jay Cronan for Department of Defence