Goff: Defence Force’s refusal “just plain dumb”

  • 28/10/2015
Goff: Defence Force’s refusal “just plain dumb”

The Defence Force's refusal to enlist a young woman because she was born in Iraq is "just plain dumb," says Labour's Phil Goff.

Warda Jawad applied for a job as an army psychologist but she was turned down on security grounds.

Her family came to New Zealand in 1993, when she was three, to escape the Gulf War.

"Basically, all my childhood memories start from when I came to New Zealand," she told Radio New Zealand today.

The 25-year-old is a masters student of psychology at Massey University, and works as a counsellor.

She previously studied medicine in Oman for 19 months.

Ms Jawad applied for a position as an army psychologist, and after a lengthy process was told she had failed the security test because of her place of birth and being away from New Zealand for an extended period.

Mr Goff, Labour's defence spokesman, says she would have been a huge asset to the force.

"Her family came from Iraq to escape violence," he said.

"They are not terrorists, nor am I aware of any evidence of her or her family being security risks."

Mr Goff says she offered the Defence Force the rare skills of being bilingual in Arabic and understanding the culture of people who live in areas where New Zealand troops are deployed.

"The decision is ill-informed and just plain dumb," he said.

"She would be invaluable to the army in helping communicate with locals, especially women, and being a role model for those women."

The Defence Force said in a statement all army psychologists were commissioned officers.

"The ability to achieve and maintain a security clearance is a mandatory requirement for all commissioned officers," it said.

"Although Warda Jawad was initially considered to be outside the NZDF eligibility criteria for the security clearance required to enter as a psychologist, this decision was subsequently reviewed."

It didn't say what the result of the review was, but said it would be contacting Ms Jawad.

She says if she's offered the job now, she won't take it.