Cheryl Pearce - Internal drive and determination

Running time
2 min 22 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Not coming from a military background, I didn't really know what to expect. And probably as a robust country 18-year-old, I was able to follow orders. It was very overwhelming. I was also physically robust, and so I didn't pick up injuries and I was able to achieve the physical training tests, and able to keep up endurance wise, but it was very different. We were meant to be everything had to be exactly the same, that they went out of the way to treat us differently to be the same. There was a lot of the staff...

Outside of the commandant and the RSM, no one actually believed in the integrated training. All the staff, or it was perceived by us as the cadets, that we weren't equal. We were at the bottom of the totem pole, and that we had to prove ourselves every day. And our male peers got a lot of pressure also from staff, about making sure that we were their weakest link, and it was up to them to remove us. And so there was a lot of bullying, a lot of belittling. It was a difficult year.

I sort of had my own way of managing, which was if I couldn't grasp the bigger picture, I'd break it down into bite-sized pieces and just get through the next day, and the next day, and the next day. And so for me, it was just keep going. And then it sort of tipped. And it was about probably a third of the way in was just that I wanted to succeed.

I had this internal drive and determination that just drove me to go, yes, I want to graduate. I want to be part of the Australian Army, and I'm going to prove you wrong, that I can get there, and I can do it. But it is a difficult year. And I've got some wonderful female friends that have come through that course, all different experiences that they've had. And a lot of it was to do with your own seniors that you had, and what their beliefs were about gender and females at Portsea. Some had really horrific... And some left at six months.

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