VCDS Message to Defence - New DAOD on sexual misconduct

November 18, 2020 - Defence Stories

As an organization, we are paying close attention to our culture and actively working to ensure it aligns with our core values and beliefs. At the end of October, we released The Path to Dignity and Respect a culture change strategy specifically designed to prevent and address sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. The strategy sets out a comprehensive long-term approach for Operation HONOUR that will guide our efforts and firmly embed the essence of the mission in the very fabric of our institution.

To support our culture change efforts, it is critical that we have strong, well-crafted policies that clearly define sexual misconduct, and what we expect from our members in terms of their behaviour, their actions and the processes they follow.

Today, we released Defence Administrative Orders and Directives (DAOD) 9005-1, Sexual Misconduct Response. This new unified policy supersedes DAOD 5019-5, Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Disorders and provides important clarification on a number of key issues raised by members, stakeholders and experts. In particular, the DAOD provides direction to support individuals affected by sexual misconduct, and makes it clear that there are options for individuals affected by sexual misconduct to seek care and support without submitting a formal report to the chain of command. It also clarifies direction about reporting obligations and processes, in order to ensure that the views of those directly affected by sexual misconduct are considered and respected to the greatest extent possible.

This new DAOD was developed in consultation with subject matter experts in the domains of law, sexual violence and victim support, and it represents an important evolution in the CAF’s approach to preventing and addressing sexual misconduct. Clearly defining sexual misconduct, as well as the procedures and processes that the CAF has established to address it, will enhance the effectiveness of our response and improve the standards of professionalism within our institution.

I want to underline the importance of leadership on the issue as a whole but particularly with respect to reporting. We have made it clear that all allegations must be taken seriously and acted upon, and that no incident of sexual misconduct should ever be ignored, minimized or excused. This is essential to rooting out those harmful attitudes and behaviours that do not align with the core values and principles of the CAF. Our values are not what we say, alone. They are lived in the hundreds of decisions we make as leaders each week. Align “how” you do to our values. Leadership must set the conditions for this approach by fostering a positive command climate in which it is safe for those who witness or are affected by sexual misconduct to report incidents. It is essential that leaders act compassionately and fairly, and that they take responsibility for the welfare of all those affected by incidents.

All CAF members are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the new DAOD. While it applies specifically to CAF members, I would also urge all members of the Defence Team to review it, so that we all have a shared understanding of what constitutes sexual misconduct and what we can do to prevent it from occurring in our institution.

Lieutenant-General Mike Rouleau

Vice Chief of the Defence Staff

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