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UNSW Canberra alumna Major Lyndsay Freeman’s message to women is clear: “You are enough, just as you are. You are a leader, just as you are.”
Mother of two, full-time Defence member, Women Veterans Australia Vice Chair, Propel Her co-founder, and #CelebrateWomenVeterans lead and co-creator – these are just some of the many roles Lyndsay dedicates her energy towards. Across these various roles, Lyndsay showcases her unique and authentic style of leadership as a proactive advocate for gender equality across the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
Lyndsay fondly recalls her father’s influence to read military history books from a young age, which naturally led to joining the Australian Air Force Cadets (316 Squadron in Newcastle, NSW). She then went on to train at the Australian Defence Force Academy while completing a Bachelor of Arts in Indonesian Studies at UNSW Canberra.
Fast forward 18-years in the ADF, and Lyndsay is now a Senior Instructor at the Peace Operations Training Centre in Canberra. As part of her role, she delivers pre-deployment training for United Nations peacekeeping missions, and lectures on Gender, Peace and Security. Lyndsay relishes her role, enjoying the opportunity to provide a unique gender perspective to military operations by drawing out second and third order effects of tactical and operational level decisions.
“It makes the invisible, visible,” Lyndsay said.
Leaning into her passions in gender equality and advocating for women’s empowerment across the globe, Lyndsay finds her career and interests closely aligned. In 2020, Lyndsay was awarded the Chief of Army Scholarship, where she conducted research on gender and security.
“Having found my path, I am now on a mission to help other people find theirs – starting with the provoking question of ‘What issue actually excites and motivates you to discuss and debate?’,” she said.
A busy single mother of two, Lyndsay devotes her energy to projects and causes that she finds genuine passion in. In particular, supporting ADF women – both serving and veteran.
In 2020, Lyndsay and SQNLDR Shamsa Lea co-founded the Propel Her: Defence Women’s Leadership Series, a curated collection of articles tailored for women in Defence covering topics across careers, personal development, and leadership. Dedicated to educating, empowering, and celebrating military women, the series continues to provide a publishing platform that amplifies the voices of its contributors.
“We identified a gap in career and professional development resources geared towards women in an Australian military context (and there are many of us). But what we did not predict was that we were creating a safe, supportive and inclusive space for military members of all genders to share their lived experiences.
“It’s an operational imperative that the ADF provide the tools, environment, and leadership example for diversity of thought and the sharing of ideas and experiences to become mainstreamed in our culture,” Lyndsay said.
Lyndsay believes that meaningful support should not stop at current serving members. As Vice Chair of Women Veterans Australia, she champions for women veterans, and advocates for the differing needs of this rapidly growing community.
Lyndsay co-created and leads #CelebrateWomenVeterans, a social media campaign that features an inspiring current or ex-serving ADF woman veteran each day in 2023. That is, 365 servicewomen, their stories and their legacies, will be showcased by the end of the year. All ADF women are encouraged to take part and share their profile, or show their support on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
“Sometimes leadership opportunities can be found in unlikely places, like creating a publishing platform, or celebrating women veterans on social media. It is our responsibility to seek out ways we can ‘be the change’ and positively influence the spaces and people around us,” Lyndsay said.
“No leader is perfect, but a good leader dedicates themselves to listening, learning, encouraging innovation and progressive thinking, and empowering those around them,” she said.
“It takes courage to fill gaps when we see them - and initiatives could fail - but it is our responsibility to at least try. We can all be a driver for positive change.”