At the Governor-General's service

In the 17th century, the role of aide-de-camp was created as a kind of emissary for commanders on European battlefields and to carry out whatever organisational functions were needed during conflict.

Only the most loyal men were chosen for the position and wore embroidered sleeve sashes - an aiguillette - to identify themselves.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Defence Force, the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, the first woman to hold the job, is served by three aides whose uniforms are still distinguished by distinctive gold braid.

Now, for the first time since Ms Bryce was appointed in 2008, women occupy all three positions.

The current Aides-de-Camp to the Governor-General are all engineers by training but now perform a variety of functions from accompanying Ms Bryce to engagements around Australia and overseas, preparing her daily schedule, co-ordinating events and meeting some of the 67,000 school students who have visited the official residence, Government House, since 2008.

The aides represent each of the three services: Lieutenant Michelle Freeman from the navy, Flight Lieutenant Casey Byron from the air force, and Captain Courtney Ames from the army.

Ms Bryce told a function in Melbourne on Thursday night that women ''must never take for granted'' the freedoms won by women of previous generations.

''In the past few months, all of us have been outraged by reports of rapes, murders, gross attacks on young women in countries across the world,'' Ms Bryce said.

''How can these terrible, terrible things be happening, we ask?''

Prime Minister Julia Gillard will attend a lunch on Friday with readers who won a competition on Fairfax website Daily Life to meet her.

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