The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has welcomed the release of the Office of the Auditor General’s (OAG) “constructive” audit of Operation Respect today.
The NZDF commissioned the OAG to conduct the audit to better inform the Defence Force of the extent of harmful behaviour and to affirm that the organisation has the right foundations in place to bring about lasting change.
“The NZDF welcomes this constructive report as both a means of affirming our current approach as the best way to progress this important work, and as a crucial data set that can be used to help inform us on the effectiveness of our efforts over the coming years,” said Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short said.
Air Marshal Kevin Short said the report makes eleven recommendations and NZDF will implement them in full. In many cases, they are already under action, he said.
“The report is well-researched and thorough. It provides constructive information that the NZDF will use to support the ongoing management, monitoring and evaluation of our efforts to prevent and address harmful behaviour.”
The OAG will undertake audits of Operation Respect every two years, which will be invaluable as the Defence Force progresses its efforts in line with our Operation Respect Strategy and Implementation Plan, he said.
“The NZDF is committed to preventing and reducing harmful behaviour to ensure that there is a safe, respectful and inclusive workplace for all our people.”
Air Marshal Short said safe workplaces were vital to the NZDF meeting its obligations both to its people, and to the Government, as it aims for improved operational effectiveness.
“Defence Force personnel and staff need to be able to operate with high levels of trust in each other. Harmful and inappropriate behaviour, if allowed to continue without appropriate consequences, undermines trust in leaders and peers, and affects the ability to operate effectively.”
“I would like to thank our people for their engagement in this audit. Their willingness to participate and share experiences has enabled the Office of the Auditor General to produce such a valuable baseline report to inform our efforts and track our progress in reducing harmful behaviours.
“It was particularly reassuring for me to see most people the Office of the Auditor General spoke with felt positively about the NZDF and their place in it, and that many positive aspects, including pride, trust, loyalty, and commitment to the organisation were reported.”
From early 2022, the NZDF engaged expert assistance to work with the Services and other areas of Defence in developing an overarching prevention and response strategy, implementation plan and measurement framework.
The NZDF recognises that implementation of the strategy will require further resourcing over what has already been allocated to Operation Respect, said Air Marshal Kevin Short.
The strategy strengthens the overall direction and coordination of the range of Operation Respect actions already underway, as well as initiatives yet to come. Each part of the NZDF will be supported through the development of implementation plans specific to their local areas, he said.
“To the best of the NZDF’s knowledge and the expert advice to date, there is no existing blueprint for this change within military organisations.”
“The changes NZDF is seeking to bring about are complex and will take time, but we are determined and committed to making lasting changes.”
Read the OAG report here: https://oag.parliament.nz/2023/nzdf-audit