Armed Forces Minister Jane Ellison has announced plans to recruit women to serve in the military after being criticised for her controversial comments about female soldiers.
The announcement follows criticism from the Defence Association that the Government should be looking at ways to increase the number of women serving.
The Armed Forces Ministry said in a statement that it had received an overwhelming number of requests from interested women for employment at the front line.
“In light of the growing number of inquiries that we receive about the potential for female service in the armed forces, we are pleased to announce that we have received a number of applications from women for positions at the Ministry of Defence,” the statement read.
“The Minister has been very clear that she would like to see the recruitment of women to join the armed services as a priority.”
The Ministry said it had not been contacted by any women in recent years who wished to serve with the Royal Australian Air Force, the Navy or the Army.
The comments were made on the first day of a recruitment drive by the Defence Associations, which was launched last year.
The Defence Association has said that the military should be given the opportunity to hire and train women in a bid to reduce the number and severity of female service members.
It has criticised the Government’s policy of not hiring women into frontline jobs, saying there is no evidence that they improve the quality of the armed force.
The association also said that there is a need for a new recruitment drive, as more than half of the female recruits currently in the Royal Navy are women.
The military has said the recruitment drive was not intended to exclude women, saying that it is a “shared responsibility” between the military and the civilian sector.
Read more from the ABC: Female military recruits ‘a burden on our health system’The Royal Australian Regiment, which currently comprises 10,000 members, has said it would not be changing the way it recruits women.
In a statement on Monday, the regiment said that women were “a burden” on the military health system, and “we have always been committed to diversity”.
The Royal Australian Artillery also said it “cannot and will not” accept female recruits into its ranks.
The Australian Defence Force said it has been “encouraged” by the recruitment efforts of the Defence Professionals Group (DPG), but it was not yet aware of any changes to the way its female recruits are recruited.
A spokesperson for the Australian Defence force said it is “working to identify appropriate options for a recruitment strategy”. ABC/wires