Liz Cosson - A tough start

Running time
2 min 43 sec
Date made
Place made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


I said to dad that I did want to join the army and he and mum would not let me join the army. They just, dad said it was not a job for a girl. And it's certainly not a career for a girl. And in his time, of course, there weren't many women in the Australian Army.

So when I was leaving school dad, both Mum and Dad suggested I do business college and learn a girl skill, how to be a secretary, not this type of Secretary, a typing Secretary. So I did business college for 12 months, and then when Dad was posted from Melbourne to Canberra and I was working here in Canberra as a secretary at a real estate agent where I was a receptionist.

The head of Hodgkinson real estate says which consumers use and I'm I was his secretary and did all payroll and that type of thing. And I said to Dad, "No, I still want to join the army". And he said, "Well, I want you to become an officer, if that's what you're going to do".

But they told me after I was selected, that they didn't think that I would be selected. They thought no, the army wouldn't accept someone like myself, I'm only 156 centimetres tall. I was pretty spoiled, growing up to be perfectly honest. And Dad said to Mum, "They won't accept her".

And then we got a telegram back in those days, and that was in 1978, I received a telegram to say that I had been selected and to go to Sydney, and to take the oath and sign up, which I did. And they then didn't think I'd make the training because it was the first year that females went through a whole year of training to become an officer. And that was in 1979.

And it was only a couple of years after equal pay for women for doing the same work as the males and they were they were testing to see whether the females could go through a very similar training to what they were doing down in Portsea in Victoria, the officer cadet school down in Portsea. And it was tough. It was tough, and I didn't think I was going to make it.

I remember in the May of 1979, I said to Mum and Dad, "I don't think I can do this anymore". And Mum and Dad came up to Sydney and just spent the weekend with me and hung out, with my mum saying, "Ah, your brother knew you wouldn't make it". And it really did spur me on, that healthy sort of rivalry between a sister and a younger brother. So I went back after that weekend and I stayed on and I completed my year.

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