The women of Australia in the Second World War (1935-1945) were given a more active role in the war effort than the women involved in World War I. This change of role for women however was not immediate. The reasons for their involvement varied, and although they faced much opposition at first about joining the men involved in the war effort, women eventually took up a more responsible role. These women formed separate branches of the armed service, each joining for various reasons. They however did encounter problems.
Women were not included in the war effort immediately. At first the government was reluctant about allowing women into the military forces, and they were only allowed to work as nurses, drivers, signallers and motor mechanics. Then, in 1940 the Women's Australian National Service was established to co-coordinate the groups of women interested in participating in the war. Only in 1941 did the government allow women to partake in the armed forces, however only nurses were sent overseas and to battle zones.
Women joined the war effort for various reasons. The government encouraged women to assist more in the war as women were needed to fill positions left vacant, to leave men in tedious jobs free for active service, and because women saw themselves as capable to fulfil many of the jobs done by men. Many women chose to join the army as they felt it was their duty as well as the male's duty to help protect their country. Others also joined seeking the benefits of earning an income, and leaning new skills.
There were many branches of the women's armed services. In 1941, the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service, The Women's Australian Auxiliary Air Force, and the Australian Women's Army Service were formed. Women who joined the Naval Service group faced much opposition, and were never allowed to go out to sea during the war, and worked mainly in communications work. Women who joined the Auxiliary Air Force worked also in communication work along with mechanical work, which left men free for active service.