NZDF tackle sexual harassment issues

The New Zealand Defence Force has brought in an outside team of six professionals to help reduce sexual harassment and harmful behaviour within the armed forces. All aimed at a major culture change within its ranks.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is getting tough on inappropriate behaviour and is taking steps to stamp it out.

Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating told Te Kāea, “We've seen with our statistics that have gone up in the last three years because we've been on this programme now and what all the best science tell us and best practices are, you have to bring it out and you have to create an environment where in one case women but all victims feel that they can bring forward the issues.”

Of the 118 matters brought to the attention of the NZDF over the last five years, only five are recorded as being from males, all the rest are from females.

The majority of formal sexual assaults and complaints during that time came from females within the New Zealand Army.

A team of six civilians specialising in areas such as human rights, law and child protection as part of Operation RESPECT has been brought in to reduce those figures.

Lieutenant General Keating says, We fully expect to the figures to increase as we create a safe environment for people to bring out these behaviours but at the same time I want them to start to decrease as they are bought out and we can find the why these things are occurring.”

It's been two years in the making to get to this point, work that emphasises a new culture for the entire NZDF.

“What that group is doing is challenging us on is bringing in external best practises but also holding us to account as well as the other accountabilities that I have is that we really are doing all we can to address the issues, so I do see them as a permanent fixture until we get on top of this issue,” says Lieutenant General Keating.

It's been two years in the making to get to this point, work that emphasises a new culture for all the NZDF.