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NZ Rugby announces review of "respect and responsibility"

November 10, 2016 at 4:06 PM

*From the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse*

NZ Rugby has announced a respect and responsibility programme. The programme will address respectful relationships, including consent, sexual assault and violence prevention. This work includes an "independent review" and the appointment of a Respect and Responsibility Project Manager.

NZ Rugby has recently been criticised for a number of issues related to violence and harassment of women by players. These include a stripper, Scarlette, saying she was abused and harassed by players at the Waikato Chiefs "Mad Monday" celebrations. The allegations were rejected by an NZ Rugby internal investigation. Players have also recently been convicted of assault and masturbating in public.

NZ Rugby announced it would conduct an "independent review" of their culture. It has now announced Law Society president Kathryn Beck will lead the review and has appointed a panel. Other members of the review panel are:

  • Sport NZ board member and former netball administrator Jackie Barron
  • New Zealand Cricket and Hurricanes board member Liz Dawson
  • Former World Anti-Doping Agency head David Howman
  • HR and communications executive Kate Daly
  • All Blacks Michael Jones and Keven Mealamu
  • Former All Blacks Dr Deb Robinson
  • Olympic gold medallist Lisa Carrington

NZ Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said "What we face as a game really just reflects on what we've got going on in our community. If we can improve some stuff then there will be some lessons for others too."

The panel is expected to release outcomes from the review in May 2017.

NZ Rugby has also appointed Eleanor Butterworth to a new position of Respect and Responsibility Project Manager. She will lead a programme to "enhance the skills and knowledge of healthy relationships across all levels of the game." Ms Butterworth is currently agency manager at Wellington Rape Crisis and was previously the education and programme coordinator at Wellington Women's Refuge.

NZ Rugby said they consulted with sexual violence survivor advocate Louise Nicholas and Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue after both Ms Nicholas and Dr Blue criticised the organisation's decision to investigate issues internally.

In September, Mr Tew said "For the past year we have been developing a respect and responsibility education programme in association with ACC focussed further on healthy relationships and consent issues. This week we began advertising for a Respect and Responsibility Manager to spearhead the project."

Additional commentary and background available in the selected media stories:

Rugby: New Zealand Rugby make 'respect and responsibility' appointments, NZ Herald, 27.10.2016

NZ Rugby accepts help from women's advocates after Chiefs stripper scandal, One News, 10.09.2016

Chiefs stripper scandal: NZ Rugby developing player responsibility programme, Stuff, 09.09.2016

NZ rugby has opportunity to lead a change in sport culture, Press Release: Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, Scoop, 09.09.2016

Chiefs ‘in-house’ investigation reflects power imbalance, Press Release: Sexual Abuse Prevention Network, Scoop, 09.09.2016

Rugby players' rep Rob Nichol says inquiry complaints deserve consideration, Stuff, 09.09.2016

New Zealand Rugby admits 'culture problem', NewsHub, 09.09.2016

NZ Rugby investigation into Chiefs stripper scandal 'bogus', politicians say, Stuff, 08.09.2016