Limited Service Volunteer Marcus Ailao, of Wellington, assisted by Courtney Fowler, of Christchurch, carries a New Zealand Defence Force White Ribbon torch through an assault course in Burnham, near Christchurch, today. Two torches have been created to shine a light on NZDF’s commitment to stop violence against women.
23 November 2016
A New Zealand Defence Force White Ribbon torch, carried by New Zealand Defence Force Limited Service Volunteers, passed through Christchurch today on its way to Wellington to signify NZDF’s commitment to the White Ribbon cause.
Limited Service Volunteer Marcus Ailao, of Wellington, assisted by Courtney Fowler, of Christchurch, got the ball rolling, carrying the NZDF torch through an assault course in Burnham, near Christchurch, at the start of a journey to highlight the White Ribbon message of respectful relationships.
Two torches, commissioned by the Chief of Defence Force and White Ribbon Ambassador, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, have been created to shine a light on NZDF’s commitment to stop violence against women.
The torches are scheduled to stop in different locations this week to show the NZDF’s commitment to the White Ribbon pledge. They will return to Wellington to feature in the NZDF and Police challenge run through the streets of the central business district, led by Lieutenant General Keating and Police Commissioner Mike Bush, on Friday at midday.
“As a White Ribbon Ambassador I’m proud of the efforts made by our Defence Force to raise awareness of the White Ribbon cause and to help curb violence against women,” Lieutenant General Keating said.
“We need to show leadership, not just within the NZDF but to the wider community. I am determined that we will do that – starting within our own organisation.”
In 2015 the NZDF introduced a mental health helpline for all NZDF personnel and their families, to address some of the stressors that can trigger violence towards women, as well as a range of other challenges that NZDF personnel and their families might be confronting.
Then, earlier this year, the NZDF launched Operation Respect, the culmination of two years’ work to tackle inappropriate and harmful sexual behaviour in the force. That included creating a professional sexual assault response team and introducing a confidential disclosure system to provide an alternative way to report sexual assault.
“When I became a White Ribbon Ambassador I was keen to find ways for the Defence Force to make a tangible contribution to this cause,” Lieutenant General Keating said.
“Through Operation Respect we are committed to do everything possible to get rid of inappropriate and harmful sexual behaviour in the armed forces.
“We want the military to be a more welcoming, engaging and safe environment for women.”
The torches will arrive in Wellington on Friday and will feature at the White Ribbon ceremony in the capital that day. After that one will be held in Wellington by NZDF and the other will be presented to New Zealand Police.