Expert Panel Helping Defence Force Prevent Inappropriate Behaviours

31 May 2016

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has initiated an expert panel of New Zealanders to help it prevent inappropriate and harmful sexual behaviours in our armed forces.

In March the Defence Force launched its Operation RESPECT Action Plan, the culmination of two years of work emphasising a culture of dignity and respect for all personnel in the NZDF.

The Action Plan focuses on six key areas including: challenging persistent sexism; increasing training; implementing alternative ways for victims to report sexual assault; introducing a dedicated, professional sexual assault response team; addressing issues associated with specific risk factors including facilities and alcohol; and increasing the percentage of women in the Defence Force.

Today the Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Tim Keating, announced a group of expert external advisors who will form the Operation RESPECT Steering Group. They 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.

"We don’t underestimate the complexity of the issues and behaviours sexual violence involves,” says LTGEN Keating. “So the Steering Group brings a range of really relevant skills and insights that will help the Defence Force deliver Operation RESPECT.
“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.

“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.  

“The Steering Group will be helping guide us, as we bring about the results we all want to see.”

Steering Group member Dale La Hood, Crown Prosecutor, says the Defence Force should be commended for taking sexual violence seriously: “I am seeing an organisation confronting an issue that affects many parts of our society. As a Steering Group, we’ll be offering advice, and really making sure Defence stays the course.” 

LTGEN Keating also confirmed the Defence Force has successfully hired four Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Advisors (SAPRAs), who will be the regional coordination points for responding to allegations of Sexual Assault. The SAPRA’s have responsibility for case coordination, information management, provision of advice to Commanders, Managers and other personnel, as well as quality assurance of service provision to victims/survivors of sexual assault.

In addition, this week the Defence Force begins the first Operation RESPECT ‘Town Halls’, compulsory awareness-raising workshops for all military and civilian staff, that will be run at every camp and base in June.

For further information, please contact Defence Public Affairs on 021 487 980

This page was last reviewed on 31 May 2016.