Former NZ Navy officer who received apology over sexual harassment says quest for justice was about helping others in Defence Force

Source: 1News

Former Navy officer Hayley Browne (nee Young) has this morning described her five-year fight for an apology over the sexual harassment and alleged rape she endured while serving.

Ms Browne has received an apology from the New Zealand Defence Force, issued by Attorney General David Parker, and a confidential compensation payment after a long fight for justice.

She says NZDF failed to provide a safe workplace for her, and that she was raped by a British naval employee while on deployment in 2009.

The NZDF set up "Operation Respect" to fight rampant sexual harassment and harmful sexual behaviour.

Speaking this morning on TVNZ1's Breakfast, Ms Browne said "it was never really about me it was more about what could I do to help hundreds of other people coming behind me.

"I think the apology was really important because in order for them to give me an apology they needed to actually own the responsibility for what happened."

Ms Browne said that she wasn't listened to, initially, because "the way the culture worked at the time was to just sort of attack anything instead of stop and listen.

"I loved my job in the Navy and 98 per cent of it was absolutely awesome ... but here was that two per cent of the culture that was really degrading and objectifying," she said.

She says she was re-traumatised after the Navy used her image on a promotional campaign trying to entice more women to join.

The campaign took the form of a fake Facebook profile on which the woman - who was given a different name - undertook all of the things that Ms Browne had said she was interested in.

"They gave her my face," Ms Browne said.

"She got the career that I wanted ... that hit me to the core - it was so violating and re-traumatising."

Ms Browne said as part of her apology and compensation, she asked that the Navy give her assurances that the culture has changed.

She said they couldn't give specific data, but did offer "simple anecdotes around how things have changed".

"They didn't measure or take surveys about the culture before and they're still not measuring it now," Ms Browne said.

Watch the full interview above.