06/26/2015 17:41 EDT | Updated 06/26/2016 01:12 EDT

Outside complaint centre to focus on victims, lieutenant general says

OTTAWA - The Canadian Armed Forces commander at the helm of the military's response to a scathing report about sexual misconduct says an arm's-length complaint centre will be focused on supporting victims. Lt.-Gen. Christine Whitecross will be visiting France next week as part of her research of how other countries have responded to allegations of sexual misconduct in the military.Whitecross has already met with officials from the U.S. and Australia as part of the military's response to an explosive outside review that was conducted by former Supreme Court justice Marie Deschamps."What I have learned is they are pretty well ... focused on victim support and I think we should take that as a best practice and lesson learned," Whitecross told a news conference Friday."It also has to focus on education and training. "Deschamps described an underlying sexualized culture in the Forces that's hostile to women and members of the LBGTQ community. Her recommendations included setting up a complaint centre outside of the chain of command.She also found the military's environment is conducive to more serious incidents of sexual harassment and assault.Whitecross has committed to publish her findings by this fall in order to update the public on the status of the military's response to the Deschamps report."Hopefully by the end of the summer we will be able to put a report together for our leaders here and sort of where we want them to go," she said.Whitecross is also urging members of the military to raise concerns."My comments throughout the town halls has been consistent: we need people to come forward, we need people to report," she said."Without them coming forward and reporting, we can't help them and we can't help the organization move forward with that ... we need to help people come forward and make change."