Independent review of New Zealand Defence Force’s Operation Respect released

An independent review of the New Zealand Defence Force’s progress against its action plan for Operation Respect has been released by the Ministry of Defence today, announced Defence Minister Ron Mark.

Operation Respect was implemented in 2016 with the objective to address inappropriate and harmful sexual behaviours, discrimination, harassment and bullying.

The post-implementation review was commissioned by the Ministry of Defence and included interviews with past and present personnel across all camps and bases.

“Firstly I would like to acknowledge the brave men and women who came forward and discussed their experiences with the reviewers. Their contributions to the process are vital and I know this may have been a difficult and traumatic experience for some of those interviewed,” said Ron Mark.

“The review was critical and clearly outlines there is more work to be done in this space – this is not where the Defence Force wanted to be. While I am disappointed, the Defence Force has welcomed this report and is accepting of this criticism.

“I’ve met with the Chief of Defence Force and the reviewers to discuss the way forward and I am encouraged to see that the Defence Force remains committed to addressing these issues.

“Post-implementation reviews are essential and we know culture change within any organisation takes time. Our Five Eyes partners are also struggling to address similar issues in their militaries, as are other Government agencies. This is an opportunity for the Defence Force to build and improve on the positive streams of work within Operation Respect.

“I am confident that the 44 recommendations in the report will be appropriately addressed.

“The two recommendations put forward for the Minister of Defence will be considered carefully, and the Defence Force has initiated contact with both the Ombudsman and the Auditor General to discuss potential options. NZDF are now focused on addressing the recommendations in the report and I will be briefed regularly on their progress.

“I also note that disclosures of inappropriate behaviour have increased since the implementation of Operation Respect, and it is important that reporting of these matters continues. I would encourage personnel to continue to reach out and report any unacceptable behaviour,” said Ron Mark.

The full report can be found on the Ministry of Defence website:

https://www.defence.govt.nz/publications/publication/operation-respect-review

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