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Newsletters > Diversity Action Programme > Te Punanga: Refugee Focus > 2009 > April

Te Punanga: Refugee Focus

ISSN 1178-0940 April, 2009

News & Issues

Art therapy for refugee children

A special unit at the national Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre is being established by RASNZ staff members Maureen Lewis and Isabelle Van Hoy to provide art therapy for children.

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The project has grown out of work undertaken last year, where women from many groups and nationalities arriving at Mangere were given opportunities to express themselves through fabric, wall hangings and art. Maureen and Isabelle and some of the refugee women were also involved in the recent Mirror Mama exhibition in Manukau City.

The new art therapy programme is expected to start operating from May, 2009.

Please contact Maureen@rasnz.co.nz for more information or see the New Zealand culture online website.

Refugees settling in Palmerston North now have a greater chance of finding work thanks to an initiative driven by a community police officer.

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Darren Paki, the local Ethnic Liaison Officer, was looking for ways to improve local refugees' transition to New Zealand life, and discovered that obtaining a restricted driving licence was a stumbling block.

Refugees usually find it difficult to save the funds to take them from a learners licence to a restricted licence. Increasingly, a drivers' licence is a requirement for many jobs, so refugees are missing out on work. Darren contacted the Ethnic Council of Manawatu and Education Training Consultants Ltd to identify potential students and training options. He then secured $12,000 from the Ministry of Social Development to support a training scheme.

Eleven refugees from both Burma/Myanmar and the Republic of Congo have now undergone training. Nine have passed their tests and the remaining two are sitting them in the near future. Several of the group now have jobs lined up and opportunities have been identified for the others.

Palmerston North's Area Commander Pat Handcock describes Darren's initiative as just one of many put together in the city through the Ethnic Communities Safety Strategy.

"Small initiatives like this can make a huge difference in terms of minimising victimisation and offending risks." Darren hopes to be able to repeat the exercise and will be applying for further funding this year.

(Taken with permission from Ten-One: NZ Police Online Magazine, March 2009).

CALD training rolled out nationally

The Cultural and Linguistic Diversity (CALD) training, funded by Te Pou and run by RASNZ and Waitemata District Health Board, has currently been delivered to more than 100 health practitioners who come from a range of disciplines, including nursing, psychology, medicine, physiotherapy and social work.

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The course has been delivered in Auckland, Palmerston North, Hamilton, and most recently, Christchurch.

Evaluation results indicate that participants have found that the courses increase their cultural competencies in key areas, such as how to work through interpreters and how to work more effectively with refugees and migrants from diverse cultural backgrounds. The CALD programme partners are now scoping collaborative work with a key medical school to develop specialist training and e-learning for general practitioners. Collaborative work is also underway for adapting the training to the education sector.

Refugee Mobile Team evaluated

The Mobile Team was established in 2007 to provide culturally responsive and highly accessible mental health support to former refugees in the greater Auckland area. This was one of the first follow-up evaluations ever carried out on a refugee service in New Zealand.

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The findings show how the work of the team has been perceived by clients themselves, families and mainstream health agencies. Key features of the Mobile Team include its cross-cultural ways of working, but more particularly the contributions of the six Community Link Workers from multiple former refugee communities, and the inclusion of traditional and body therapies.

The independent evaluation of the Auckland Regional Refugee Mobile Team has been featured on Te Pou website.

A new initiative in Palmerston North has seen collaboration between the Department of Internal Affairs, Anglican Friendship Centre, ESOL and Refugee Services working together.

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There are increased numbers of refugees living in the Palmerston North area. Older people from the Burmese and Bhutanese communities were becoming lonely when members of their families left for study, training or work. These older people were receiving one visit a week from an ESOL home tutor, and tutors found that the students' proficiency in English was not growing with the rest of the family.

As DIA had already been working with individual communities, they arranged for those refugees to attend morning activities at the Friendship Centre. After a constructive meeting with others in the collaboration, ESOL is now providing a tutor to go to the Friendship Centre once a week for a communal English discussion group. The Friendship Centre operates a bus to collect the refugees and Refugee Services ensures that their older clients are aware of the programme.

The Anglican Friendship is a recipient of Lottery and COGs. For more information please email Heather Tanguay.

Future Events

Interpreting Canterbury is seeking people to become trained interpreters and fluent speakers of a wide range of Asian, African, Pacific and European languages.

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The RASNZ Research Section has been assigned the task of developing a study of the issues around family reunification, as they relate to mental health and settlement outcomes.

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This workshop is being held in Auckland over 2 days on April 29 and 30 from 10am – 4pm.

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Did You Know?

AUT University and the Refugee Council of New Zealand are organising the Refugee Conference 2009 to be held at AUT University (Auckland) from November 18-21.

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