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New Zealand Defence Force recognised for diversity and inclusion

2018 09 19 NZDFOverwatch2

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

The training was developed by the New Zealand Defence Force in 2017 as a preventative education initiative to help build a foundation for greater diversity and inclusion.

The program was an early initiative of the Operation Respect program in 2016 that sought to combat inappropriate and harmful behaviour, including sexual violence. 

A similar program was launched in the Australian Defence Force in response as part of the 2012 Pathway to Change Program, which established the Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office.

Around 12,000 NZDF staff have completed the training package, 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,” said Air Marshal Short.

“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.’’

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. 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.

Image by New Zealand Defence Force