Police Commissioner Mike Bush, centre left, and Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Tim Keating with the White Ribbon torches, as New Zealand Defence Force and Police runners set off on the annual White Ribbon run in Wellington from Parliament to Civic Square.
25 November 2016
Two New Zealand Defence Force White Ribbon torches were on show in Wellington today as NZDF and New Zealand Police staff – led by Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating and Police Commissioner Mike Bush – faced off in the annual fun run/walk from Parliament to Civic Square in support of the White Ribbon cause.
The torches were developed by the NZDF to shine a light on its commitment to stop violence against women. They have been on journeys in the North and South islands to raise awareness of the White Ribbon campaign and to let women who have experienced violence know of the support that is available.
Lieutenant General Keating became a White Ribbon Ambassador in October 2015 and since then the NZDF has become heavily involved in the campaign.
Before today’s event Lieutenant General Keating presented one of the torches to Commissioner Bush, a symbol of the Defence Force challenging other public sector organisations to tackle domestic violence. The other will be held in Wellington by the NZDF.
“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, it launched Operation Respect, the culmination of two years’ work to tackle inappropriate and harmful sexual behaviour in the Defence 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.”