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VIDEO: Gladstone recruit is first female to join infantry

IF you asked Rebecca Dunnett where she wants to be in a year's time she would say in a field with a rifle over her shoulder.

It might be not be the "typical" dream of most young women, but for Rebecca it's all she's ever wanted.

On International Women's Day the 19-year-old became the first woman in Queensland to be enlisted into the Australian Army Reserves as an infantry soldier.

It wouldn't come as a surprise to her friends, since the new recruit describes herself as a "tomboy" who would have always preferred to be shooting guns rather than playing with Barbies.

Now she will have a chance to put that enthusiasm to the test.

"I feel pretty special knowing I'm the first," said Rebecca, who recently gave away her apprenticeship as a mechanic to focus on the military.

"I'd like to think I can encourage other women to do the same as me.

"We need more females in the army to make it more equal, to evolve so we're not stuck in this idea only men can do certain things.

"I can't wait to get out there."

This is the first year women have been allowed to join the infantry after the Australian Army declared in 2011 it was abolishing gender restrictions on combat positions.

The changes, described at the time as "a significant and major cultural" shift, were introduced over a five-year period and infantry is the last position to have those restrictions lifted.

Her new boss Major Ed Dahlheimer said while there would still be gender stereotypes to break through, the biggest challenges for women in combat positions were the same as those for men.

"There's a lot of walking, carrying heavy loads, but there's also the fun stuff too," Major Dahlheimer said.

"She'll learn to use a variety of weapons, and become very skilled at using those weapons, and essentially become a warrior for today's society."

There are already women serving in the unit which covers Central Queensland to Cairns, but none are in combat positions.

Topics:  australian army, gladstone



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