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How did WW2 affect women in Australia

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Courtney Bennie

on 4 August 2015

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Transcript of How did WW2 affect women in Australia

How did WW2 effected women in Australia
Women's rights in Australian during and after the war...
During WW2, the large amount of men enlisted to serve as soldiers meant there was a huge need for women to complete 'men's jobs' at home. It was made clear to women that they were expected to leave their jobs as soon as the war was over. However, many women enjoyed working and were disgruntled to have to go back to being a housewife once the soldiers came home. This reluctance to leave the workplace after the war was the start of women’s liberation in Australia, and many women often sought jobs that would continue their independence after the war. WW2 paved the way for women's independence and the growing impact of women in the workforce.
Service roles available to women during and after WW2...
The service roles of women changed and expanded immensely during and after WW2. Women were no longer confined to household and voluntary roles but instead had the option to join a woman's arm of each of the services. Women were now encouraged to join the Women's Australian Auxiliary Air Force (WAAAF), the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS), the Australian Women's Land Army (AWLA) and the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS).
The effect of war on Australian nurses...
Around 5,000 Australian women joined the AANS in WW2. Like soldiers, nurses were motivated to volunteer by a sense of duty and were often subjected to social pressure and expectation to offer their services. Australian nurses served in the Middle-East, the Mediterranean, Britain, Asia, the Pacific and Australia. Many Australian nurses were often exposed to terrible conditions as they faced unsavory weather and a lack of adequate facilities to cope with the sheer amount of casualties. Hospital wards were often merely tents, sometimes without even a concrete floor. The threat of disease was ever-present among nurses and the pressures of being at war meant nurses felt they couldn't afford to take time off for illness. Sickness was often more pronounced as nurses had to live off of a basic diet of powdered egg, bully beef, dehydrated potato and baked beans. This diet was not nearly enough to sustain the nurses, who often worked 15 hour days. Medical units also had to be located near or on the front line, putting nurses in near immediate danger. It is estimated that 78 nurses died while serving, some through accident or illness, but mostly due to enemy action or while prisoners of war.
Women's rights in Australia before the war..
Before WW2, Females were encouraged to marry at an early age and stay at home to take care of children and the housework. It was very uncommon to see women in the work place. In fact, many women who had jobs were shamed for 'stealing men's jobs' and only earnt 54% of a man's wage.
Service roles available to women before WW2...
During WW1 and before the start of WW2, there were a very limited amount of service roles available to women. In WW1, women were expected to take care of the household and raise children. Women were encouraged to join voluntary organisations such as the Australian Red Cross, the Country Women's Association, the Australian comforts fund and the Cheer-Up Society. The only service role available to Australian women was nursing.
There are many ways in which WW2 affected Australian women, both on the home and battle fronts. Australian women had a huge impact on Australia's involvement in WW2, and in turn the war had a huge effect on their lives. Here we will look at how the war affected women's rights in Australia, how Australian nurses were affected in the war and how WW2 affected service roles available to women.

The Women's Australia Auxiliary Air force was formed in February 1941 to replace male wireless telegraphy operators for overseas services. Many WAAAF members were trained in technical work and understood communications, signals and mechanics. While women were employed to do men's jobs, they were still only paid around two thirds of what men in the same position were.
The Australian Women's Army Service was formed in August 1941 when War Cabinet granted approval. The AWAS was formed to release men from certain military duties for employment in fighting units. Members of the AWAS served as mechanics, drivers, cooks, telecommunications officers, typists and many other military occupations.
The Australian Women's Land Army was established in July 1942 to replace male farm workers who had enlisted as soldiers or were completing other war work. Many women found themselves doing work they had never contemplated before, which opened thee eyes to the possibilities of the workplace.
The Woman's Royal Australian Naval Service was formed in October 1942. Some Women were employed as technical specialists, but most took up traditional jobs such as typists, clerks, stewards, cooks and orderlies.
A propaganda poster encouraging women to engage in a service role (Anzac Day, 2015)
Members of the AWLA during a training course (Anzac Day, 2015)
Women serving in the WAAAF (WW2 Australia, n.d)
A group of women from the AWLA, (Andi Goode, 2015)
Ultimately, WW2 had a profound effect on women in Australia. Whether it be, the impact on women's rights in Australia, the impact on Australian nurses or the impact on service roles available to women, the war had a significant effect on women all around the country.
A propaganda poster used to inspire women (national WW2 museum, 2015)
(Third site history, 2013)
(Heather C. Hunt, 1999
Australian women working on a farm during WW2 (ABC, 2012)
A propaganda poster encouraging women to take up men's work (pinterest, n.d)
Australian women working in a munitions factory (pinterest, n.d)
Australian nurses (Army photos, 2015)
Recruitment poster for the Australian Army Medical Women's Service (Queensland government, 2015)
Staff and patients in a ward in Darwin (Australian War Memorial, 2015)
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