RAAF gets first female WOFF-AF
A changeover ceremony for the role of Warrant Officer of the Air Force (WOFF-AF) was held in Canberra on 6 November.
CAPTION: Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld congratulates Warrant Officer of the Air Force Fiona Grasby on her appointment as the ninth WOFF-AF, during a changeover ceremony at Russell Offices, Canberra. Photo by Corporal Veronica O’Hara.
Former WOFF-AF Rob Swanwick handed the reins of influence to newly promoted WOFF-AF Fiona Grasby.
Presided over by Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, and with hundreds of Defence members in attendance, the changeover ceremony signified the passing of responsibility for the role tasked to represent the Air Force-enlisted workforce in the Defence Senior Leadership Group.
“The Warrant Officer of the Air Force is a position that is not a command – it’s a position that provides leadership through influence – it’s a position that also provides advice and support and enables command across the whole of our Air Force,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.
“I thank you, Rob, for your dedication, the focus you’ve had and the strong leadership you’ve demonstrated.
“You’ve enhanced the Warrant Officer workforce, and have been an excellent ambassador for our Air Force, the Australian Defence Force and our nation.
“Fiona, I have no doubts that you will excel in the role – you are well-equipped and I know you are well-prepared.
“You have the passion, the skill and the dedication to deliver on this very challenging role.”
Former WOFF-AF Swanwick served in the position since 2015 and reflected on the past four years, as part of his 40-year Air Force career.
“I am here today to acknowledge and thank those who have supported, guided, influenced and protected me throughout my tenure,” WOFF-AF Swanwick said.
“I stood in this very spot four years ago and committed to build and guide a senior-enlisted network.
“It is my great pleasure today to thank the Senior Enlisted Leadership Group and team who, through their efforts, support and belief allowed me to feel successful in this endeavour.
“Congratulations Fiona on your selection.
“It has been a great pleasure and great honour for me to be the Warrant Officer of the Air Force and I have great confidence in you, and wish you every success for your tenure.”
Air Marshal Hupfeld witnessed the signing of the appointment certificate, reading the first and last line for the gathered crowd to highlight why he believed the role was so important.
“Your appointment as the Warrant Officer of the Air Force affords you both the privilege and responsibility to represent and serve a diverse, dynamic and transforming Air Force. Your moral courage, tenacity and integrity must always be beyond reproach and this will have a direct impact on your strength to lead through influence and to raise the trust of all you are appointed to serve.”
“Today I’m humbled, proud and privileged to witness and preside over this ceremony with two exceptional senior enlisted leaders, and I welcome the appointment of Warrant Officer Fiona Grasby to the role of Warrant Officer of the Air Force.”
Newly appointed WOFF-AF Grasby spoke of her pride to be standing in front of the Defence personnel gathered for the ceremony.
“Thank you for the confidence and trust that the Senior Leadership Team has bestowed upon me with the appointment of me as the ninth Warrant Officer of the Air Force,” WOFF-AF Grasby said.
“It is with humility that I say it is a privilege to do what we do every day.
“Rob, I thank you for your words of support and your practical wisdom that you have shared with me over the years.
“I would like to congratulate you on your unwavering stewardship as Warrant Officer of the Air Force.”
A number of junior airmen and airwomen played critical parts in the ceremony – Corporal Amy Hestermann-Crane as the master of ceremonies, Aircraftman Burren Shaw for the Acknowledgement of Country and Leading Aircraftman David O’Toole recited the Airman’s Code.
No. 1 Recruit Training Unit staff and students were also in attendance to witness the occasion.
WOFF-AF Grasby said she wanted the ceremony to be a recognition and celebration of the rich tapestry that characterises the Defence Force, where diversity and culture are embraced, where influential leadership at every level was not only encouraged, but fostered.
As part of the Defence Senior Leadership Group, WOFF-AF represents the enlisted workforce, provides advice and assists the Chief of Air Force and commanders on the morale, work life and general welfare of the airmen and airwomen.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was published on a Defence web page and not made known to the media by usual channels. CONTACT only stumbled across this story while researching the appointment of Navy’s first female WO-N, which was communicated to the media via emailed press release. I site this discrepancy as (yet another) example of the increasingly poor communications from the ADF (who have a PR workforce numbering in the hundreds) with often struggling, resource-strapped media outlets.
I also note that, as of 4 December, the ‘Our Leaders‘ page on the RAAF web site still lists WOFF-AF Swanwick as the incumbent.