NZDF brings in outside experts to reduce sexual harassment

By Aroha Treacher

The New Zealand Defence Force has brought in outside experts  to help reduce sexual harassment in the military.

The new steering group is made up of six external advisors to help emphasise a more positive and safe environment that shows respect and dignity to all NZDF members.

“Each year we have around ten complaints that are identified as serious assaults. We’ve committed to delivering an enduring change that helps prevent this behaviour. This starts with resetting standards and applying these across our Defence Force," says Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Tim Keating.

Most recently in May this year, a RNZN Navy Commander was found guilty of sexually assaulting a junior rating, after repeatedly grabbing her bottom at an after dinner function at the Devonport Naval Base in 2012.

To help reduce sexual assault further, another four specialised Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Advisors (SAPRAs) have been hired by the NZDF who will be the regional coordination points for responding to allegations of Sexual Assault. 

“I know the overwhelming majority of our Defence Force are great people, and that they deplore as much as I do people who choose to not live by our values. Operation RESPECT is about arming them with the information, tools and guidance they need to be guardians of what makes our Navy, Army, Air Force and Defence Force special." 

Operation RESPECT will focus on areas such as sexism within the forces, support for victims to report sexual assaults, address risk factors such as alcohol and will aim to increase the amount of woman in the armed forces.

The six members of the new external steering group are:

David Rutherford, Chief Commissioner, Human Rights Commission.

Superintendent Tusha Penny, National Manager Prevention, New Zealand Police.

Dale La Hood, Crown Prosecutor.

Yvette Tinsley, Associate Professor of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.

Louise Nicholas, Victims Advocate.

Emma Powell, Head of Injury Prevention, Partnerships & Delivery, ACC

Te Kāea reporter Aroha Treacher will have more on this tonight at 5:30pm.