Policy

CAF releases Sexual Misconduct Response Strategy

In October the CAF released The Path to Dignity and Respect: The CAF Sexual Misconduct Response Strategy

This comprehensive strategy focuses on aligning organizational culture to prevent and address sexual misconduct, and improve support for affected persons to create an environment free from sexual misconduct, where all people are treated with dignity and respect.

“The Path to Dignity and Respect is a comprehensive strategy, which intends to further advance our efforts to address sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. The strategy establishes direction for a fully co-ordinated and sustained approach to guide our efforts,” explained General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff.

It provides a thorough analysis of CAF culture and identifies what aspects the CAF must eliminate, change, or strengthen to address sexual misconduct. It also establishes a prevention-based implementation plan and a performance measurement framework to ensure continuous evaluation and improvement.

The strategy builds on the CAF initiatives through Operation HONOUR and co-ordinates with complementary strategies and programs. The strategy is based on research from a diverse group of national and international experts in culture change and change management. It is also based on extensive social-science research conducted by research experts supporting the Operation HONOUR Research Program.

“This strategy builds on our continued efforts to fight sexual misconduct across the Canadian Armed Forces and create a workplace free from harassment. We are committed to a zero-tolerance approach regarding sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. The recommendations made by the Auditor General of Canada and other experts will continue to support the culture change in the Canadian Armed Forces,” commented Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.

The CAF has made it clear that any form of sexual misconduct within its ranks is unacceptable. It harms people, jeopardizes their operational effectiveness, and is inconsistent with their values and ethical principles.

The strategy expands Operation HONOUR, launched in 2015, into a comprehensive and sustained institutional effort made to align CAF personnel’s behaviours and attitudes with the principles and values of the profession of arms in Canada.

As part of the strategy, the CAF is refocusing the Operation HONOUR mission. Moving forward, while always working to eliminate harmful behaviours, the mission will look at ensuring personnel never minimize, ignore or excuse sexual misconduct, which is key to building a safer work environment and trust among personnel and the chain of command.

When talking about the strategy, Lieutenant-General Mike Rouleau, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, says it puts into one document the CAFs principles, goals, and methods of how they will continue to work together to prevent sexual misconduct from occurring in the CAF.

“Sexual misconduct is a pervasive and complex issue in the CAF and in society as a whole, and there are no simple solutions. This strategy incorporates important, evidence-informed approaches that will help the CAF better address the factors that contribute to sexual misconduct,” Dr. Denise Preston, executive director, Sexual Misconduct Response Centre

He also explained that The Path to Dignity and Respect gives expression to what the CAF aspires to be and what Canadians expect of them. It will provide invaluable guidance to ensure the thousands of decisions their leaders make every day align with their values.

The strategy builds on the CAF initiatives through Operation HONOUR and co-ordinates with complementary strategies and programs. The strategy is based on research from a diverse group of national and international experts in culture change and change management. It is also based on extensive social-science research conducted by research experts supporting the Operation HONOUR Research Program.

In addition, the CAF worked collaboratively with the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre to make sure the strategy considers key themes and issues identified by subject matter experts in supporting survivors, psychology, criminology, and other areas, as well as persons affected by sexual misconduct.

“Sexual misconduct is a pervasive and complex issue in the CAF and in society as a whole, and there are no simple solutions. This strategy incorporates important, evidence-informed approaches that will help the CAF better address the factors that contribute to sexual misconduct,” informed Dr. Denise Preston, executive director, Sexual Misconduct Response Centre.

The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre operates independently from the chain of command and is a key resource for anyone affected by sexual misconduct. The Centre provides 24/7 confidential counselling, response and support coordination, information, and assistance to CAF members affected by sexual misconduct.

This strategy is meant to be an ever-changing document, and the CAF welcomes all feedback. Comments and suggestions will be considered as part of a planned annual review and update process, which the CAF will use to incorporate feedback, as well as lessons learned, into the strategy on an ongoing basis. Individuals who wish to contribute to the strategy can submit their views and ideas via the Operation HONOUR website.

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Julia Lennips

Julia is a journalist who is an avid reader and an artist. She is living in North Bay, ON pursing her passion for reporting.

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