Sexual harassment is not a new issue. But virtual reality is now providing the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) with an innovative technology to address it.
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) takes bias and unacceptable behavior seriously. This is why they created the New Generation Navy (NGN) , whose aim is to address cultural change and reform.
And it is not their only initiative for doing so. RAN’s Diversity and Inclusion Council were winners of a Finalist’s Award in the 2018 Australian Human Resources Institute Awards.
RAN have also been using virtual reality training to help prevent unacceptable behaviour.
Virtual reality models of RAN personnel, used in the sexual harassment training
Virtual Reality is able to change how you see your own body, including height, age, skin colour and gender. It allows you to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
Personal space is something that is very strong in virtual reality, and can leave a powerful feeling.
In a virtual reality experience made directly with Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, users are able to experience sexual harassment, gender bias, and cultural bias from the perspective of a victim.
Chief Of Navy, Admiral Tim Barrett, and Deputy Chief Of Navy, Rear Admiral Michael Joseph Noonan, with Rick and Brennan from Equal Reality!
In scenarios based on real life examples, RAN personnel experience verbal abuse from colleagues and have their personal space invaded. This virtual experience is both threatening and uncomfortable.
The result of this training is a better understanding of the effects of harassment. This is what will drive behavioural change and help prevent unacceptable behaviour among RAN personnel.
The top-level leadership of RAN, including Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, former Chief of the RAN, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, Chief of the RAN and the New Generation Navy Team all experienced the training last year.
As a result, the Defence Innovation Team and RAN are currently taking action to widen the training to a larger segment of the RAN and the entire Australian Defence Force.
The RAN and the Australian Defence see the potential for virtual reality training to tackle issues beyond sexual harassment, gender bias and racial bias. As our work with mwah and Adam Holthouse shows, there are indeed opportunities to meet objectives for social change across a range of social interactions.