Our recommendations

New Zealand Defence Force: Resetting efforts to reduce harmful behaviour.

We recommend that the New Zealand Defence Force:

  1. clarify the outcomes and objectives of Operation Respect. This includes clearly defining what a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment looks like, which behaviours are unacceptable, why Operation Respect is important, and how Operation Respect will enhance operational effectiveness in all parts of the New Zealand Defence Force's work;
  2. prioritise development of an Operation Respect strategy and refreshed plan that sets out how the New Zealand Defence Force will bring about behavioural change. This should include suitable mechanisms for measuring, monitoring, and evaluating progress;
  3. prioritise work to improve the complaints and disciplinary systems to ensure that there are appropriate, effective, and trusted ways to report inappropriate and harmful behaviour;
  4. support each service and the Joint Forces to prepare their own plans to implement the objectives of Operation Respect, which are clearly aligned to the Operation Respect strategy and refreshed plan;
  5. clarify the role of the Operation Respect programme team and how it will work with the services, Joint Forces, and portfolios;
  6. set out clear accountabilities for senior leaders, camp and base commanders, and commanding officers for Operation Respect;
  7. develop a communications approach that renews focus on preventing harmful behaviours. This approach needs to make a clear case for Operation Respect as key to operational effectiveness and draw on values that are important to people – such as comradeship – to build collective ownership for creating a safe and respectful environment;
  8. strengthen the governance arrangements for Operation Respect, including the way the Operation Respect External Steering Group is used;
  9. prepare a plan for improving data and information management. The plan should be informed by clear guidelines on confidentiality, and set out what data will be collected on inappropriate and harmful behaviour, how it will be collected, how complaints data will be improved, and how data will be collated to measure outcomes;
  10. provide resources to ensure that the programme team can access appropriate expertise:
    1. in organisational development/culture change to support development of the strategy and plan;
    2. in sexual harm (including characteristics, drivers, prevention, and response) to assist in developing the strategy and plan and work with senior leaders;
    3. to develop a plan for improving data collection and information management related to inappropriate and harmful behaviour; and
    4. in harm prevention to equip leaders with the tools and skills they need to carry out their responsibilities for Operation Respect; and
  11. determine what resources will be required to successfully implement the strategy once it is developed and regularly review resourcing to ensure that it remains adequate.