Co-ed cadets: a smooth transition

Co-ed cadets: a smooth transition

Gender not an issue says new female OC

A Co-Ed Trinity cadet unit commanded by a woman … it must have seemed an impossibility during the eight decades when it was a man-only world.

But when Sue Draysey took charge this year, the issue of gender did not even register with her.

“When the Head Master approached me I did not even think about being female. It did not enter my mind,” said Ms Draysey, the second female OC (Officer Commanding) after Sheila Miller in 1997-98 and the first since the girls of Meriden joined in 2018.

“I want it to be that we don’t look at gender. I’m just Draysey, and the role of OC is just one of the staff.

“My leadership style is not necessarily a women’s leadership style, it is Sue Draysey’s leadership style, borne of years of experience in different jobs,” said the former Naval officer who joined Trinity as a casual in 2015 and has worked fulltime for three years as Careers and Student Pathways Advisor.

There’s no point in gender-blindness, however, and she declares “absolutely” that it’s important to have female leadership figures in a boy’s school.

“When I was appointed many male and female staff members said they were so glad a woman had the role.

“I’m so proud to be doing that (job) alongside women at Trinity, in a position of leadership.”

Her own three sons – Gordon (class of 2014), Patrick (2016) and William (2020) Barlow – were all Trinity cadets.

“I chose to send my boys to Trinity because of the wonderful male leadership, the values of being empathetic, visionary, respectful and all of those beautiful things, and we have experienced all of that in the women who have led and taught them, too.”

She said the arrival of the Meriden girls, who make up almost one third of the 550-strong cadet unit, had “broadened our students’ social skills, their ability to connect”.

“They work alongside each other. They’re all cadets doing a job together.

“The girls have added an opportunity to make new friends, something different to look forward to, new people to work with.

“We are approaching our fourth year, when the boys coming up through the ranks haven’t known anything different.”

The Trinity unit this year had its first female RSM in Isabella Saville.

“Can you imagine that? It gives me goose bumps,” said Mrs Fiona Brennan, Meriden’s Co-ordinator of Cadets.

She said the venture had produced “nothing but positives” as far as she was concerned.

She said she was surprised that so many girls – 152 at latest count – had joined the cadets because Co-curricular activities at Meriden are not compulsory.

“They seem to love challenging themselves, and getting out of their comfort zone.”

There are two major field exercises a year at army bases such as Singleton, Holsworthy and Majura, outside Canberra, as well as a recruitment bivouac each November and a promotions camp in term two.

Ms Draysey said:  “I like to refer to us as a co-ed unit spread over two campuses, rather than two schools. It’s a partnership.”

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