Legends of the Nepean: Del Gaudry

Tom, Del, daughter Kimberly and sister Joanne.

Del Gaudry is the Sydney Coordinator of the Women Veteran Network Australia (WVNA), a past board member of Blue Mountains Zonta Club, past board member of the Penrith RSL Club, past board member of the RSL & Services Clubs, past Trustee Director of RSL NSW and currently the National President of the Defence Forces Welfare Association (DFWA).

A staunch advocate for Current and ex-Serving members of our Defence Forces, Del marches in Sydney on every ANZAC Day with the Women’s Royal Australian Air Force (WRAAF).

Locally, Del is more commonly known as the coordinator of the WVNA ANZAC Day Commemoration services which are held in Memory Park, Penrith, honouring all the women who have served and continue to serve in the Australian Defence Force. This includes those who have given their lives, have served overseas, in disaster relief, at home, full time and reserve. For those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, with mental and physical conditions.

The three Services held thus far have been unique, featuring an all-female Catafalque Party and Chaplain, and the 2023 service featured women in all roles at the Service. This was topped off by a C130 Hercules fly over with two female pilots.

Del was born in Oakdale and the family initially lived in the Burragorang Valley, with their home one of hundreds subsequently resumed and later flooded in 1958 through the creation of Warragamba Dam.

One of 7 children (5th in line and the 4th daughter), Del attended Oakdale PS and Camden HS, then decided to travel Australia for 12 months, before settling in WA and working as a shoe saleswoman in Perth.

In 1976, Del volunteered to join the Women’s Royal Australian Air Force (WRAAF) as a cook but was instead given the role of Clerk/Supply and was posted to the Richmond Air Force base.

She was ultimately in and out of the RAAF three times and in 1989, was the first female officer accepted into the RAAF as a single parent.

In 1994, Del left the RAAF again and took on the role as a Stand-By Reserve, and would be in that role until 2006, when she re-joined the RAAF

In 2006, she returned as Squadron Leader for the Defence Reserve Support in Sydney. Since then, she did a variety of jobs with the Reserves (Human Resources roles), including State Manager of Defence Reserves Support (DRS) NSW.

During her time in DRS she had the opportunity to walk the Kokoda Track. “When I walked the Kokoda Track in 2008, it really brought home how tough it must have been for our veterans who were there. I was there equipped; they were there ill-equipped on so many levels,” Del said.

In the last five years of her Air Force career, Del has worked in the welfare area, assisting members who were wounded, injured or ill transitioning out of the Air Force. She also served as a Leadership Coach and Mental Health First Aid facilitator.

Del is currently the WVNA Coordinator in Sydney and in 2020, she coordinated the first-ever WVNA Service in Penrith, which was attended by Senator Marise Payne.

In November, 2022 Del was elected as the National President of the Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA).

In recognition of her outstanding service over her lifetime, both in the RAAF and the community, Del has received a number of awards, including:

• Australia Day 2023 Honours List – # Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) for services to the RAAF in the areas of Women, Peace and Security UNSCR 1325 Implementation; and, Welfare and Mental Health training to improve Human Performance

• RSL and Service Clubs Association Spirit of ANZAC Award 2018 for “Outstanding Community Member”

• Head Cadet Reserve Employer Support March 2014: Division Medallion for services toward Defence Reserves Support

• Australia Day 2014 – RAAF Gold Medallion for Services toward Women in the RAAF

• Vice Chief of Defence Force (VCDF) 2010 Gold Commendation for services to Defence Reserve Support NSW

• Air Vice Marshall’s Bronze Commendation for Services to the RAAF 1993

Del has also fulfilled many and varied volunteer roles during her life, including:

• Defence Force Welfare Assn – National President (Nov 22 – present)

• Women’s Veterans Network Australia (Current) – Sydney Coordinator 2013 – present

• Rural Fire Service – Blaxland Brigade (Fire Fighter – various roles from 2009 to present)

• Ryder Cheshire Foundation (Committee member of Victoria – 8 years)

• Eltham Horse and Pony Club -Vice President (3 years), Committee member (5 years).

WVNA is open to all women who have served or who are serving in Defence regardless of their age, their Service, their rank, where their Service took them, or their length of Service. It is a place for friendship, support, health and well-being. A very difficult area to discuss is that ex-Serving women have a much higher likelihood of dying by suicide than the general female population.

# The Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) is awarded to members of the Australian Defence Force “for outstanding devotion to duty or outstanding achievement in the application of exceptional skills, judgement or dedication, in non-warlike situations”.

Del Gaudry was nominated as a Legend of the Nepean by Peter Ward.
If you know a local legend, send us a nomination at nepeannews@aol.com