Getting the message out to everyone if disaster strikes

Languages forum: Communication in a crisis
NZ Diversity Forum, 19-20 August, Aotea Centre, Auckland

Guidelines for communicating with diverse communities in the wake of a disaster will be launched at the New Zealand Diversity Forum in Auckland on Monday.

The guidelines are the work of the Christchurch Language and Information Network (CLING) which was formed after the Canterbury earthquakes, to advise local and central government agencies on how best to communicate with the many diverse communities in Christchurch that were affected by the earthquake.  The group has also produced guidelines on the use of interpreters.

The guidelines will be presented by representatives of CLING at a forum on “When Disaster Strikes”. The guidelines draw on the experience of Christchurch agencies and ethnic communities, but are relevant to local and central government agencies and community organisations everywhere.

“It’s important to be better prepared to communicate with culturally and linguistically diverse communities in the event of a civil emergency,” said Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres. “With the increasing diversity of our society, it is vital that government and community organisations have the necessary capability to communicate effectively with all their diverse communities, especially, but not only, in circumstances of civil emergency.”

“A key message from the guidelines is not to wait for a disaster to strike, but to be prepared now. Having the necessary relationships, accessible information and channels of communication is essential for good public services at any time, not just when a civil emergency occurs.”

Speakers at the forum:

  • Jenni Marr, Christchurch City Council, Multicultural Community Adviser
  • Nicki Reece, PlainsFM Station Manager
  • Shirley Wright, Christchurch Resettlement Services
  • Wayne Reid, Refugee and Migrant Health Care Manager, Partnership Health Canterbury.

The organisations working collaboratively as part of CLING (Community Languages and Information Network Group) include: Christchurch Resettlement Services, Christchurch City Council, Partnership Health Canterbury, Interpreting Canterbury, Community and Public Health (CDHB), Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) Plains FM, the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs and the Human Rights Commission.

Best Practice Guidelines: Engaging with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities in Times of Disaster will be available to be downloaded from Monday along with other support material – visit

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