We must recognise and value the role of women, whether serving or civilian, and highlight their contribution in defence of Australia. Widows, women and veteran families deserve to be more than a by-line in veteran policy.

Throughout NSW Women’s Week and International Women’s Day, we shined a light on gender bias within our community.


We meet some of the amazing women in our community. Some of have served, are spouses of serving veterans, widows or leaders in our War Widows NSW community. We find out more about how they have managed bias in their lives and careers. Click on the photos to watch the interviews.


Beck Rayner, Founder ‘Military Life’

“I found community and connection with people who just go it.”

“I wanted every defence partner to feel that connection and find that community.”

Beck from Military Life has found her community and given that opportunity to many others. Beck Rayner is a successful business owner and defence spouse. She has built a strong community of defence spouses through her podcast and online forums. Beck shares with us the challenges of managing her own career and family while living the military life.

Jennifer Collins,Chair, Australian War Widows NSW 

“We need to advocate for women of all ages who are in the roles of carers.” 

“I’ve always made sure that women are involved in decisions at a government level.” 

Jennifer Collins, Chair of AWWNSW and former Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Veterans Affairs for NSW and ACT has been involved in the ex-service community for almost 20 years. 

Jennifer shares with us her views on how women can be better supported and recognised, and how we should use women’s voices collectively to drive reform. 

Jennifer Collins

Kim Hicks, Former Aviator of the Royal Australian Air Force

Former Aviator of the Royal Australian Air Force Kim Hicks has juggled a lot in her life between her career, children, military training, work schedules and injuries sustained from her service. 

Kim shares with us some insights into her life during and following her service in Baghdad. Kim, we thank you and your husband for your service and for the sacrifices you and your children have made to serve our country.  

Kim Hicks

Rhondda Vanzella OAM,NSW State and National President of Australian War Widows

“There needs to be a lot more support for families and children”. 

“They need to walk the families from day one side by side”.

Rhondda Vanzella OAM, NSW State and National President of Australian War Widows talks about what still needs to be done to help relieve the mental load and pressures many women connected to defence service experience and the support needed for families and children. 

Rhondda Vanzella OAM

Rachel McGrath, Intensive Care Senior Registrar

“There is a lot of support and work gone into transitioning the veteran…. it is also important to support the spouse”. 

“Actually we are amazing, strong, independent, women” 

Rachel McGrath is an Intensive Care Senior Registrar and has experienced life as defence spouse. In this interview with AWWNSW CEO Renee Wilson, Rachel shares insights into her career and her connection to the defence and veteran community. 

Rachel McGrath

Bree Till, Advocate War Widow, Defence Spouse, Mother, Carer, Artist, Educator, Art Therapist

Thank you Bree Till for sharing with us some insights into your upbringing, family and views on gender bias. 

Despite all the challenges you have faced, you continue to show courage and endurance using your lived experiences and hard-earned wisdom for the benefit of our community. 

Bree Till

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