The Australian Federal Police is running its first women-only recruitment round as it ramps up efforts to meet its 50-50 gender target.
For the next few months the police force will only accept female applications for entry-level positions in an attempt to make up for heavily male-dominated recruitment courses over the past year.
The AFP’s Acting Commissioner Leanne Close said the strategy aimed to increase the representation of women across all roles, including community policing, cyber investigations and organised crime.
“What we are not doing is recruiting enough women to reach the targets that we want by 2021 … so we are actively marketing out there to really target those women who would be keen for a great, challenging and really diverse career,” she said.
“It’s definitely not women-only roles — we are just trying to market so that we we can increase the pool of female applicants that we can draw from in the community.”
Currently women make up 22 per cent of sworn officers, one third of all staff and one quarter of senior leaders.
Last year AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin introduced gender targets for the force with a goal to increase the proportion of female officers to 50 per cent over the next decade.
Acting Commissioner Close hoped to attract about 1,000 female applicants in this recruitment round and employ 600 more women over the next four years — a move that would boost female representation to 35 per cent.
She said the decision to target only women in this round was not overlooking men.
“It’s not trying to exclude men at all,” she said.
“We have a great pool of male applicants as well and we want to make sure that our courses are about 50-50 [women and men],” she said.
“If we have a few more females on each course we aren’t worried.”
Acting Commissioner Close said the AFP would likely continue their female-only marketing strategy until at least Christmas.
“Then we will sit back and assess and see how successful it has been and re-assess the actual marketing strategy,” she said.
The new initiative was announced at the AFP’s latest graduation round, of which more than half were women.
Graduate Rebecca Wood said she believed expectations of inconvenient hours and heavy workloads may deter some women from applying for the police force.
“I think they worry about shift work and obviously the hours they have to commit,” she said.
“But I like to think that I’m setting an example for her [two-year-old daughter] and making the community a better place for her.”
An independent review into workplace culture within the federal police force found 46 per cent of women and 20 per cent of men reported having been sexually harassed within the past five years.
The six-month study into diversity and inclusion, carried out by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick and released in 2016, made 24 recommendations.
“The very high levels of sexual harassment and bullying evidenced in the report demands urgent action,” Ms Broderick said, while announcing the need for reform.