Sexual Harm Support (SAPRA)
Tautoko Whaimuri i te Taitōkai (SAPRA)
The NZDF Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Advisors (SAPRAs) provide practical information, resources, and support to all members of NZDF (and their families, colleagues) who are affected by any form of Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB). HSB includes sexual offences, sexual harassment, or sexualized social behaviour that has left someone feeling uncomfortable. If you are unsure if a SAPRA can help you, please phone and ask.
How a SAPRA can help support you
Workplace behaviour continuum
The Workplace Behaviour Continuum (WBC) describes a spectrum of behaviour ranging from healthy and respectful to harmful and illegal. This is a tool introduced by the NZDF to assist all personnel to understand and talk about appropriate behaviour in the workplace. It is not intended to be used for assessing the impact of HSB. The directive to all personnel is that behaviour should be “in the green” at all times. SAPRAs work across the WBC continuum to provide advice about any HSB.
What is the role of the SAPRA?
SAPRAs are subject matter experts in the field of HSB. SAPRAs provide practical information, resources, and support on both the response to, and the prevention of, any form of HSB.
SAPRAs receive calls about unwanted sexual touching, sexual assault, sharing intimate images without consent, sexual innuendo, and any sexualized behaviour that undermines a professional environment, e.g., redirecting a conversation to talking about sex.
Who do SAPRAs work with?
SAPRAs are available to all members of the NZDF who have been affected by any form of HSB, including Military personnel, Regular Forces, Reservists, NZDF civilians, as well as the families and colleagues of the military member affected.
What do SAPRAs provide?
SAPRAs listen, provide advice, and problem solve. Everyone’s experience is different so we encourage people to contact a SAPRA to talk through what is possible in any given situation. There are many ways a SAPRA can help which include providing:
- Information about the reporting options, the investigation, and the discipline process;
- Referrals to internal and external care and/or treatment services;
- Education and training across the NZDF on healthy relationships and respectful behaviour.
Do I need to report the incident?
There are too many variables with any given situation to give one answer to this question. Regardless of what has happened, you can contact a SAPRA, anonymously if you prefer, to find out what the options are for you. Whether someone needs to report or not will depend on a number of factors. A useful way to understand your responsibilities and options is to seek advice from a SAPRA.
Commanders Note: Officers and Non Commissioned Officers (NCO) have a duty to report disclosed, suspected, or observed offences through the chain of command for preliminary investigation or other appropriate action. If that is not what the service person wants, then contacting a SAPRA at the earliest opportunity is advised in order to talk this through.
What should Commanders and Managers do?
Given the particular complexities of HSB, we recommend contacting a SAPRA in the first instance and then again at any stage as needed. The SAPRA will provide the appropriate support and advice, such as:
- Advice on the physical and psychological safety for the victim/survivor and for the person accused;
- Advice on how to address a unit, e.g., what language to use regarding speculation;
- Advice on the options available for remedial education or treatment available for the person accused of sexual harassment (including making referrals as appropriate);
- Information about the process, e.g., New Zealand Police investigations.
Contact a SAPRA for further information as these are a small number of examples of the work we do.
How do I get in contact with my nearest SAPRA?
How does reporting work - Disclosure Pathways
Any member of the NZDF who has been affected by harmful sexual behaviour can, at any time, contact the New Zealand Police or ring 111
in an emergency.
NZDF has implemented two-track reporting to provide personnel who are victims/survivors of HSB a choice wherever possible, about how they wish their disclosure to be dealt with. The two pathways are called Restricted Disclosures and Unrestricted Disclosures, and are explained below.
What should I do if someone tells me something has happened?
Listen. Be quiet and calm. Take a breath. Recognise that there is no ‘one way’ a person who has experienced HSB will react. Only the information they choose to share is relevant at this point. Any other information can be gathered later, if necessary, by the appropriate person.
Acknowledge. Thank them for telling you. Reinforce that it can be very difficult to speak up about things of this nature.
Support. “I’m not a specialist in this area, but I do know some people who can help”. Offer to call the SAPRA to ask about options available. You can do this without having to provide identifying details for yourself or the person you’re calling on behalf of.
Safe To talk.
An external to NZDF support option is the Safe to talk
helpline which is a free anonymous service in New Zealand. Anyone can contact this helpline 24/7 about anything to do with any form of HSB on 0800 044 334
Follow up. Ask the person what they want you to do. Agree on how and when you will get back to them. For example: “I’ll contact the SAPRA and then get back to you tomorrow with what they suggest” or “ Would you like me to call Safe to Talk with you here” or “I can get the number for you.” Equally, they might not want you to do anything other than listen. Respect that unless there are serious concerns for their or someone else’s
Service people note. Keeping the restricted disclosure option available.
If a person is confiding in you, and it seems that they are or might be about to talk about HSB, they need to be aware that processes are in place which entail responsibilities for people who receive disclosures (as above). They also need to feel heard and supported. Use your own words to express this, or adapt the following as needed (don’t read it like a script):
“I’m pleased you’re able to come and see me. I understand these things can be difficult to discuss. It’s important to me that I support you. At this stage, so that you can have some choice about whether there’s an investigation or not, we need to talk without any specifics. So, without telling me what happened or who was involved, what can I do to help you feel safe right now?”
This approach will mean that you help to keep their options open while still being supportive. This aims to increase the sense of control for the victim/survivor. You can show support by finding the SAPRA number for them and making sure they have a private space to talk with the SAPRA. You can also talk to a SAPRA yourself for information, resources, or support. You could suggest contact with a SAPRA by saying something like:
“SAPRAs are in place to help us with things like this and will have advice for us. Do you want to be a part of that conversation? If you want, I can arrange for you to talk to a SAPRA privately to discuss your options and to help you make a decision about next steps.”
Safe to talk 0800 044 334
24/7, private and confidential information for anyone affected by HSB, including families of the person accused. They are also available online, by text, or email. Safe to talk is a referral service and includes information for Māori, Pasifika, male survivors, LBGTTQI, and migrant and refugee communities.
New Zealand website with info and resources for rainbow communities re partner and sexual violence.
Australian website with resources, including an app, for men who have been sexually abused and their friends, and family.
A New Zealand website with Info for young people, parents, professionals about all aspects of internet safety, including scams, sexting and much more.