Navy rape survivor says Attorney General's apology long time coming

10:14 am on 7 August 2019

A former officer who was raped and sexually harassed while working in the New Zealand navy says she hasn't felt instant relief after receiving an apology from the Attorney General.

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Attorney General David Parker has apologised to Hayley Browne for the conditions she served under. Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

Hayley Browne was raped by a British naval employee while on deployment 10 years ago.

She had spent the last five years fighting both the New Zealand and British governments for the past five years for not providing a safe work environment.

Ms Browne said the apology by Attorney General David Parker had been a long time coming and it would take her a while to process.

"I think everyone expects it to just feel like a massive relief but I suppose because it's been going on for five years and the sexual assault was 10 years ago... the stress is slowly lifting instead of a watershed moment," she said.

The apology covers the conditions she served under, the way her complaint was handled, and how she was retraumatised by the use of her image to recruit women into the navy, while she was battling to have her complaints dealt with.

She has already had a briefing with the Defence Force about some of the things she thinks they could improve on.

"I've got some ideas around how they can better manage people's images," she said.

"The Attorney General was still claiming that people who sign up to the New Zealand Defence Force sign away their basic human rights."

But Ms Browne said the Defence Force was doing positive work around sexual harassment and she hoped to see that continue.

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