Minister Supports Navy's Moves To Wipe Out Sexual Harassment

  • Paul East

Minister of Defence, Paul East, said today he was confident the Royal New Zealand Navy was taking positive steps to eliminate sexual harassment within its ranks.

"Information provided to me indicates that the Navy has been working hard to deal with this serious issue. Since 1993, all naval recruits have received training on how to deal with sexual harassment and on what is regarded as appropriate behaviour. There have been 125 of these courses, 54 of which were run during 1996. The training has been reinforced through the distribution of printed material.

"All courses have contained modules dealing with group leadership, responsibilities in relation to sexual harassment, and behavioural characteristics which are expected of junior and senior managers. More than 1400 naval personnel have undergone training of this nature.

"Training for anti-harassment advisers has been conducted separately from the training on sexual harassment prevention issues. Personnel who receive training as anti-harassment advisers are drawn from all ships and establishments. These people provide an informal source of advice for personnel who consider that they have been sexually or generally harassed.

The Defence Force's policy is to have two percent of its personnel trained as anti-harassment advisers. The Navy has exceeded that target already and aims to have four percent of its personnel trained as anti-harassment advisers.

"The New Zealand Defence Force has informal and formal processes for dealing with sexual harassment complaints and depending on the severity of the allegations, deals with them accordingly. Apart from the most serious cases, which may involve the police or the Defence Force's internal disciplinary procedures, the aim is to seek resolution through a process of conciliation. All complaints are treated seriously and thoroughly investigated," said Mr East.