The New Zealand Defence Force GLBTI support network, OverWatch, has won the supreme award in this year’s Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Diversity Awards.
Squadron Leader Stu Pearce of the Royal New Zealand Air Force says he couldn’t be more proud of the recognition the group has recieved. “We are delighted to have been awarded both the Diversity Award and the Supreme Award at the EEO Trust Awards,” he says.
“This is a real validation for our group that the efforts the NZDF is putting into supporting GLBTI personnel, as well as their families, friends, commanders and managers, is on the right track. We hope that OverWatch being a visible, vocal and valued part of the NZDF reiterates NZDF’s commitment to providing help and support to all of its people.”
In 2009 along with a few friends, Pearce began work to establish a Defence Force GLBTI peer support network. In late 2011 approval was granted to formally establish the group and OverWatch was born in January 2012.
The name OverWatch comes from a military tactic which defines the support of one military unit by another.
OverWatch have an online presence on the Defence Intranet which provides information, guidance and support to GLBTI people across Defence as well as for Commanders and those responsible for the support and welfare of GLBTI people in the force.
This year the OverWatch group proudly donned their uniforms and marched in the 2013 Auckland Pride Parade. It was the first year the New Zealand Defence Force has allowed its military personnel to take part in a pride parade in uniform.
| Sarah Murphy