In the 17th century the role of aide-de-camp was created to act 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 of men were chosen for the position. They wore embroidered sleeve sashes - known as 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 position - is served by three aides whose uniforms are still decorated with 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 perform a variety of functions, from accompanying Ms Bryce to engagements across Australia and overseas to preparing her daily schedule, co-ordinating events and meeting some of the 67,000 school students who have visited Ms Bryce's official residence, Government House, since 2008.
The aides represent each of the three services: Lieutenant Michelle Freeman from the Royal Australian Navy; Flight Lieutenant Casey Byron of the Royal Australian Air Force; and Captain Courtney Ames from the Australian Army.
Ms Bryce told a function in Melbourne on Thursday night that women ''must never take for granted'' the freedoms won by females 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.
''The Pacific is a region where gender equality and rates of violence against women are among the worst in the world. How can these terrible, terrible things be happening, we ask?''
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will mark International Women's Day by attending a lunch on Friday with 10 readers who won a competition to meet her on Fairfax website Daily Life.