The Dynamics of Social Change and the Australian Defence Force

TitleThe Dynamics of Social Change and the Australian Defence Force
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsSmith, Hugh
JournalArmed Forces & Society
Date Published1995

In the last two decades, as the likelihood of involvement in major military conflict appears to have diminished, the Australian Defence Force has reflected changes in Australian society in a number of areas. These include (1) the ethnic composition of the ADF; (2) the institution/occupation orientation of service personnel; (3) the admission of women to a wider range of roles; (4) the enactment of a law permitting selective conscientious objection; and (5) the government's decision to allow homosexuals to serve in the Defence Force. This study provides a brief historical background before outlining the principal factors that have brought about change in these areas. Some of these changes have been painful for the Defence Force while others have proved relatively painless. What they all have in common, however, is a focus on the rights of individuals. This raises the question as to their impact on military effectiveness and the limits of individual rights in the armed forces, especially at a time of diminished military threat.

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