NZDF’s Sexual Ethics Training Scheme Wins NZ Diversity Award

30 August 2018

The New Zealand Defence Force's Sexual Ethics and Respectful Relationships (SERR) training has won the Emerging Diversity and Inclusion category and the overall award at the 2018 Diversity Awards NZ.

The SERR training was developed by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) in 2017 as a preventative education initiative to help build a foundation for greater diversity and inclusion. It was an early initiative of the Operation Respect programme, launched by the NZDF in 2016 to combat inappropriate and harmful behaviour, including sexual violence. 

About 12,000 NZDF staff have completed SERR training, which educates staff about consent, identifying behaviour that is inappropriate for a professional workplace, how to deal with it, and how to intervene when people see it happening to others.
Diversity Works New Zealand chief executive Rachel Hopkins said the NZDF initiative focused on one of the most topical issues facing workplaces today, creating genuine social change with a simple training strategy delivered to a large workforce in a very short timeframe.

Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short said the NZDF was delighted to have won the category and top award at the 2018 Diversity Awards NZ.
“We know we still have work to do and that changing culture takes time,” Air Marshal Short said. “This is an organisational priority for us and our people are telling us it’s making a difference.

“The NZDF is taking seriously its duty of care to keep our people safe.’’ 

Note to Editors:

Operation RESPECT is the New Zealand Defence Force’s programme to ensure all members of the NZDF can perform their duties in an environment free from inappropriate and harmful behaviour, one that is mutually respectful and inclusive for all. Since starting Operation RESPECT, the NZDF has:

  • Put more than 12,000 uniformed and civilian staff (as at June 2018) through a compulsory three-hour Sexual Ethics and Respectful Relationships (SERR) training module. These are ongoing and the remaining Defence Force will attend these in 2018
  • Created a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) – there is a National Prevention and Response Manager and five regional Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Advisors (SAPRA) working across all NZDF camps and bases. The SART model was evaluated in 2018 as part of our commitment to continuous improvement
  •  Introduced a restricted disclosure mechanism, allowing victims of inappropriate behaviours to receive support without the need to lodge a formal complaint
  • Employed a dedicated social worker for every camp and base to improve access to support services for NZDF members and their families
  • Developed a SERR module (which includes some bystander intervention training) specifically to be delivered during training of new recruits
  • Developed a substance (drugs and alcohol) harm minimisation framework
  • Created an Operation RESPECT Steering Group which meets quarterly and is chaired by the Chief of Air Force, AVM Tony Davies
  • Issued a Commanders Guide to responding to sexual violence
  • Been approached by a number of other NZ Government departments to share what we have learned throughout the process
  • In 2017 the NZDF became one of only three organisations in New Zealand accredited by White Ribbon, the campaign to end men’s violence against women
This page was last reviewed on 7 February 2019.