CAF releases report on addressing sexual misconduct
The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance, released online today the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) first progress report on addressing inappropriate sexual behaviour.
It has been almost six months since Gen Vance announced Operation HONOUR, the CAF’s mission to eliminate harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour in the organization. The report outlines the progress achieved by the CAF in implementing the Operation HONOUR directives, as well as the 10 recommendations of the External Review Authority, former Supreme Court Justice Mme Marie Deschamps.
Highlights of the progress report include:
- Operation HONOUR was the first step in establishing an effective strategy to bring about cultural change in the Canadian Armed Forces, with the objective of a professional working environment free of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour.
- The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre was established extremely rapidly relative to similar centres of comparable organizations, opening on September 1, 2015. Canadian Armed Forces members who have experienced or been affected by harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour now have access to a dedicated resource where they can be heard and supported. During the September-December timeframe, 156 CAF members reached out and were supported by the centre. The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre is one of the tangible actions the CAF has taken in response to the spring 2015 External Review Report.
- The commanders of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force, Canadian Joint Operations Command, Military Personnel Command, Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, and all other commanders subordinate to the CDS have completed awareness sessions across their organizations, as have other major CAF organizations. The intent of these sessions was to raise awareness and reaffirm the CAF’s expectations of its members on this issue.
- An extensive review has recently been completed across the CAF’s major training and education establishments, assessing the effectiveness of current training on harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour. This analysis will form the basis of curriculum changes and the development of a series of training tools designed to improve training and education throughout the career cycle of its members.
- The Canadian Armed Forces has contracted Statistics Canada to conduct a comprehensive volunteer member survey on inappropriate sexual behaviour to more accurately determine the scope of the problem. Statistics Canada will conduct the survey in April 2016. The results will influence a wide range of Operation HONOUR-driven activities, including a policy review and modernized training.
- In September 2015, General Vance issued direction to create gender advisor positions at Canadian Joint Operations Command and the Strategic Joint Staff. He also directed relevant changes to joint doctrine, education, and training.
“We have only just begun this mission. Last year we acknowledged inappropriate sexual behaviour is a significant problem in our organization. Today’s report shows we are beginning to see early progress. But we are still far from where we need to be. We must focus and sustain our efforts to ensure we instil the cultural change necessary to provide a healthy environment for all members.” – General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff
“We’ve started to implement what our members told us they needed to feel safe and supported in the Canadian Armed Forces. This report shows where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we are going. Change takes time, but we are committed to seeing this mission through successfully.” – LGen Christine Whitecross, Commander, Military Personnel Command