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

Te Punanga: Refugee Focus

ISSN 1178-0940 October, 2009

News & Issues

UNHCR mandated quota refugees included in the September 2009 intake have completed their six week orientation programme at Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre.

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On October 9 2009, they moved to their new homes where they will continue to be supported by various agencies in the settlement process. The September intake included 140 people. Their nationalities and numbers, and the areas they have resettled are as follows:

  • Afghan (18): Auckland (18)
  • Ethiopian (7): Auckland (7)
  • Burundi (3): Auckland (3)
  • Somali (1): Auckland (1)
  • Myanmarese (72): Auckland (29), Porirua (5), Nelson (38)
  • Democratic Republic of Congo (18): Hamilton (18)
  • Republic of Congo (1): Palmerston North (1)
  • Sudanese (10): Auckland (2), Hutt Valley (8)
  • Iraqi (5): Auckland (5)
  • Sri Lanka (5): Auckland (5)
  • Total: 140

This year the Department of Labour has had selection missions in Uganda, where it interviewed refugees from Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in Ecuador, where refugees from Colombia were interviewed. Another selection mission is currently underway in Nepal, where Bhutanese refugees are being interviewed. The Department is currently making preparations for the November 2009 and January 2010 intakes.

What do you think about refugee policy?

The Human Rights Commission is currently updating its status report on human rights in New Zealand, in preparation for developing the second New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights next year.

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A section of the status report is on the right to asylum and looks at how that right is provided for in New Zealand both in terms of asylum seekers and quota refugees. Your early input on the current situation and the ways in which New Zealand policy and practice could be improved would be welcome. The 2004 chapter on the right to asylum is on the Human Rights Commission website. Please email us with any suggestions or comments.

After completing a unit on Human Rights a class from Porirua College made a music video on the theme of standing up for your rights.

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In the video a refugee student, played by Rung from Myanmar, is bullied in the playground and decides to stand up for his rights by taking the complaint to the Principal. Rung is supported by others who have had similar experiences. The students' video was inspired by the U-N-I-T-E-D video, which featured the Youth for Human Rights theme song of 2004. Students in the video represent a range of cultures, including Burmese, Cook Island, Indo-Fijian, Niuean, Samoan, Tokelauan, Tuvaluan and Vietnamese. You can watch the video on You Tube.

Refugee Services Hutt Valley was the recipient of a community award at the inaugural Hutt City Community Awards in September.

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The organisation was awarded a Wellington Airport Regional Community Award, which recognise voluntary organisations in the community. Jude Walcott, National Communications Coordinator for Refugee Services New Zealand, said the formal recognition was a great opportunity for the organisation to acknowledge the fantastic work volunteers do in assisting former refugees to resettle. The Hutt City Community Awards event celebrated the contribution of volunteers in the city, and included the Civic Honours Awards, Wellington Airport Regional Community Awards and Safe City Awards. Mayor David Ogden highlighted the importance of volunteers, and the high regard in which they are held by the city: "That sums up the importance of volunteers and the valuable work they do and what a tremendous difference they make in people's lives."

Sixty five young women participated in a week-long ‘New Refugee School Holiday Programme’ in Auckland this month, which included swimming lessons and learning about water safety.

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Olympic Solidarity

The holiday project resulted from collaboration between the New Zealand Olympic Committee, Dean Greenwood Swim School, Watersafe Auckland, Refugee Services, Refugees as Survivors and the Auckland Regional Public Health Services. It was also supported by refugee communities in the Auckland region, Sport Waitakere and senior students from the Marist College Outreach Programme. The participants came from countries as diverse as Burma, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Burundi, Sudan, Iraq, Somalia and Congo. Many of them had not had the opportunity to swim before, some because of cultural, religious or geographical constraints in their homelands. As well as spending time in the water, the girls took part in an art workshop; listened to guest speaker Penny Marshall, who is aiming for the 2012 Olympics; and played other sports such as netball, soccer, basketball and tennis.

The Settling In Palmerston North and Fielding: Diverse Communities Talk About Their Experiences report was launched at the Manawatu Convention Centre in Palmerston North on September 25.

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The report is a cooperative initiative by the Ministry of Social Development's Settling In Programme, local councils, government agencies, the Manawatu Multicultural Council and other community services groups. The project consulted 30 focus groups made up of members of migrant communities and international students to identify their views and experience about access to health and education services and public responses to the increasing diversity of the community.

The report recommends the establishment of a newcomers' network, a volunteer centre and an information resource for new migrants along with an action programme to address broader issues. It noted that there have already been a series of positive initiatives in the Manawatu including the first "Ethkick" soccer tournament, a "Rainbow Praise" service involving the diverse Christian ethnic communities, the celebration of World Refugee Day, women only swimming nights at the local swimming pool and a research project on diversity at work. The report is available to view on the Commission's website.

Christchurch Resettlement Services has just released its Annual Report for 2008-09, which is a model of good practice for a community organisation.

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It demonstrates a strong commitment to accountability, is very accessible and includes a strong voice of stakeholders. The report notes that CRS service delivery covers five key areas: bilingual community work, social work, youth work, health promotion, and 'living well in Christchurch' alongside a children's service.

This year has seen the commencement of a youth service delivery to young people from migrant backgrounds (parallel to the current service to those from refugee backgrounds) and participation in the delivery of the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) training package to mental health clinicians. Bi-lingual and family support workers fill a crucial role in the organisation's work A key aim for CRS in 2009/10 is "An ongoing commitment to professional, culturally responsive practice informed by best practice principles...". Over the 2008/09 year, CRS provided ongoing specialist social work services to 523 people of 51 ethnicities. If you would like an electronic copy of the report please email CRS.

Settlement Support Manukau

Settlement Support Manukau would like to remind refugees and their families of the services available to them.

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They can help with access to local information and services in the Manukau area. Settlement Support Manukau can be contacted through the Auckland Regional Migrant Services - you can email or call them (09 263 5490), and they are located at 6 Osterley Way, Manukau City. Other Settlement Support branches around New Zealand can be contacted on 0800 776 948.

Does History Matter? Making and Debating Citizenship, Immigration and Refugee Policy in Australia and New Zealand is a collection of essays co-published by the Australian and New Zealand Schools of Government and edited by Klaus Neumann and Gwenda Tavan.

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The publication represents a systematic attempt to "explore the use of the past in the making of citizenship and immigration policy in Australia and New Zealand." It examines the place of history and memory in policy making and political debate. The collection includes an essay by Ann Beagehole on 'Looking back and glancing sideways: refugee policy and multicultural nation-building in New Zealand'. More information is available on the Australian National University E Press site.

‘Cambodia Dreams’ Film

New Zealand Film Maker Stanley Harper’s ‘Cambodia Dreams’ is a documentary about a Cambodian family living in a refugee camp in Thailand that spans 18 years.

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The film chronicles the parallel lives of the extended family of Yan Chheing, a Cambodian grandmother and refugee, with half of the family living in the Thai refugee camp and half remaining in their village in Cambodia, and Yan's return to Cambodia. On one of his visits Harper describes being a bit depressed, as it didn't seem they had made 'leaps and jumps'. He was then struck that the fact that the mother and daughter were still together: "It was reconciliation and it was lasting.... It is a real story about why it is positive to help people in need. It does work." The film was shown in Cambodia last year, in Tokyo this month at the Refugee Film Festival on October 2 and 3, and the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong on October 7. You can read more on the UNHCR website.

Future Events

Refugee Services AGM, October 19

Refugee Services Aotearoa New Zealand is holding its Annual General Meeting on October 19 at 5.30pm.

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Refugees as Survivors AGM, October 22

The Wellington Refugees as Survivors Trust is holding its Annual General Meeting on October 22 at 5.45pm.

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Don’t forget that the Looking Back and Moving Forward Refugee Health and Wellbeing Conference is happening from November 18- 20.

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The next Asylum Forum will be held on December 8, from 9am- 4pm in Mangere, Auckland.

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Did You Know?

As reported in last month’s edition of Te Punanga, the Department of Labour called for submissions on the composition of the Refugee Quota for 2010- 2013.

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