Canadian Armed Forces releases unified sexual misconduct response policy

November 18, 2020 - Defence Stories

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Operation HONOUR

The Canadian Armed Forces is committed to creating a work environment free from sexual misconduct, where all people are treated with dignity and respect. Through Operation HONOUR, the CAF has been working to prevent and address sexual misconduct within its ranks. As part of this effort, the CAF has developed a new unified policy in the form of a Defence Administrative Order and Directive (DAOD) that addresses sexual misconduct within the institution.

This new policy, titled DAOD 9005-1, Sexual Misconduct Response incorporates all policy elements related to sexual misconduct in one document, providing a single source for definitions, requirements and responsibilities related to sexual misconduct. It reflects expert advice and leverages knowledge the CAF has gained since releasing interim policy on sexual misconduct to clarify a number of key issues. In particular, it highlights support resources available for CAF members, and provides direction to the chain of command on how to support affected members appropriately throughout any process that may follow a report.

Sexual misconduct reporting is a particularly challenging issue in any organization. An abundance of research shows that incidents of sexual misconduct are underreported across society for a range of reasons and that processes resulting from reporting can be the source of significant stress for affected persons. The new policy provides important clarification about reporting obligations and considerations that will ensure the CAF addresses incidents consistently, fairly and in a way that respects the preferences of the affected individual to the greatest extent possible. In addition, the CAF has updated the Sexual Misconduct Incident Management Decision Tree to align it with the policy. The decision tree provides a practical application of the policy, providing step-by-step guidance to the chain of command for managing disciplinary and administrative processes, and assuring support for affected persons, throughout the process.

While the CAF encourages anyone directly affected by an incident of sexual misconduct to report it, the safety and well-being of members will always be paramount and concerns about reporting should never be a barrier to someone seeking care or support. The policy reinforces this point and identifies resources that members can access without triggering a formal report to the chain of command. Specifically, it highlights the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, which provides confidential support and information and can facilitate an anonymous discussion with its Military Liaison Team or a Military Police liaison officer, for specific questions related to CAF reporting mechanisms.

DAOD 9005-1, Sexual Misconduct Response supersedes previous policy and CANFORGENS related to sexual misconduct. All members of the Defence Team are encouraged to review the policy to ensure they fully understand what constitutes sexual misconduct in the CAF, and what they can do to prevent it. This policy also aligns with and supports the CAF’s recently released culture change strategy, The Path to Dignity and Respect, which establishes a long-term institutional approach for preventing and addressing sexual misconduct.

For more information on how the CAF is preventing and addressing sexual misconduct, visit the Operation HONOUR web page.

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