Rear Admiral Jennifer Ruth Firman

Jennifer Ruth ‘Jenny’ Firman was born in Ballarat, Victoria in 1958 and commenced medical degree studies at the University of Melbourne. She joined the Royal Australian Navy as part of the undergraduate entry scheme, in January 1980, as a probationary Acting Sub Lieutenant. Jenny completed her medical degree studies in 1981 and was promoted to Lieutenant in 1983.

Over her 22 years of full time service she was posted to a range of positions including service at sea in the training ship HMAS Jervis Bay during 1986-87. Jenny also served at the naval hospital at HMAS Penguin, and specialised in underwater medicine. She later served as the Officer in Charge of the Submarine and Underwater Medicine Unit (1994-96), as well as the senior health officer at the RAN Health Centre at HMAS Cerberus and as the medical officer at HMAS Stirling.

Jenny Firman was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in 1988, Commander in 1994 and Captain in 2000. She served in Canberra in a number of tri-service appointments where she was responsible for developing strategic and operational health policy. She left full time service in 2002 and transferred to the RAN Reserve. Captain Firman was then appointed as the first Chief Medical Officer for the newly created Defence Force Recruiting organisation.

In August 2008 she was promoted to Commodore and appointed as Director General - Navy Health Reserve and performed that role until 2012. In February 2015, Jenny Firman was promoted to Rear Admiral and appointed as the Surgeon General Australia Defence Force Reserve.

In her civilian working life she is the Principal Medical Adviser in the Office of Health Protection in the Department of Health. In this position she is responsible for the provision of medical and scientific advice to assist in the work of the Department and the Australian Government in communicable disease control and health emergencies. This has included the national response to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, the 2011 Japanese tsunami and radiation leak, Ebola risk assessments during 2014-16, the 2015-16 Zika virus outbreak, and the global problem of anti-microbial resistance as well as providing advice on the Australian national immunisation program.

Rear Admiral Jennifer Ruth Firman was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021 “For exceptional performance of duty in the field of military medicine”.