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Newsletters > Diversity Action Programme > Te Punanga: Refugee Focus > 2011 > November

Te Punanga: Refugee Focus

ISSN 1178-0940 November, 2011

News & Issues

Refugee Education Conference AUT 2011

New Zealand’s inaugural Refugee Education Conference will take place later this month in Auckland, hosted by the School of Languages and the Centre for Refugee Education at AUT University.

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The conference provides an opportunity for those working with refugees to come together to share and explore rights and strengths based approaches to refugee resettlement. The emphasis will be on education at all levels and stages of the refugee experience in Aotearoa/New Zealand. It beings together practitioners, former refugees, and leaders in a wide range of areas of resettlement to present recent research or models of working.

Conference keynote speakers are:

  • Rick Towle, UNHCR, Canberra -  "The Role of Resettlement in the Global Protection of Refugees"
  • Dr Melika Yassin Sheikh-Eldin, Manager of Settlement Delivery Support Services for AMES in Melbourne, Australia ‘Involving refugee voices in settlement’
  • Mitchell Pham – ‘Born in Viet Nam, Made in NZ’ – a personal journey from a 12-year old Vietnamese refugee to a successful Kiwi business and social entrepreneur

There will be 40 presentations in 4 streams- education, health, settlement and community, with plenary sessions in which both children and adults who are former refugees give biographical testimonies.

One session will highlight the launch of the book’ Refugee Stories’ with readings of their own contribution to the book by 3 former refugees.

Date    :           28 & 29 November
Venue :           North Shore Campus, Akoranga Drive, Auckland

For more information visit the AUT University website.

Refugee Quota Brach Information

Due to the ongoing impacts of the Christchurch earthquake, the first two refugee quota intakes of the 2011/2012 quota year were reduced in number.

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The July 2011 intake comprised of 77 people and the September intake, 84 people.  Refugee Quota Branch is pleased to advise that full refugee quota intake numbers have resumed as of the November 2011 intake currently at Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre (MRRC). The November intake consists of 115 refugees from Burma, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. The November refugee intake will depart MRRC on Friday 2nd December. The remaining three intakes of the 2011/2012 refugee quota year are planned to consist of at least 125 refugees.

EDUCALD Preparing for Launch in 2012

The EDUCALD resource, a collaborative venture between the New Zealand Ministry of Education and RASNZ is nearing completion and will soon be launched.

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The project has allowed for the development of a new specialised CALD resource for the education sector. As the face of New Zealand rapidly changes, new migrants from diverse backgrounds constitute an ever-increasing proportion of the population.

Back in early 2007, the need for training and capacity-building in the health sector in working with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) migrants was recognised as a top priority at the National Refugee Health Conference held on Orakei Marae. The response to that call was the collaborative initiative between RASNZ and the Asian Health Service of the Waitemata District Health Board which developed the CALD Resource Book and Training Programme.

Over 2008, with funding assistance from Te Pou, the CALD Training Programme was rolled out across the country, trialled, and evaluated with over 110 health practitioners from a wide range of professional back-grounds. Through collaborative partnerships the CALD training is now being delivered across the country within the health sector.

RASNZ CEO Gary Poole, said it made good sense to further collaborate with the Ministry in developing and extending CALD resources for the education sector, and particularly health practitioners working within Group Special Education who increasingly meet children and families from migrant backgrounds. He observed, “in the education sector, the Ministry of Education had already taken a positive lead in developing collaborative initiatives with Mâori and Pacific, and including the migrant and refugee strand is a logical complementary next step in advancing this important work.”

RASNZ CALD Project Director Jenni Broom says, “We’ve been very pleased to work closely with Peter Shaw, Educational Psychologist, who has extensive specialist experience in engaging with people from refugee backgrounds through his work with the On-Trac project. Our view is that development of multicultural practice in Aotearoa New Zealand must be based upon the bi-cultural foundations of Te Tiriti O Waitangi (Love & Waitoki, 2007), and on cultural safety.”

Inaugural RAS awards held

The Wellington Refugees as Survivors Trust had an awards ceremony at their AGM on 31 October. Known as the Recognition for Achievement and Service awards, three were given to individuals and three to organisations.

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The Mayor of Wellington, Celia Wade-Brown was on hand to present the awards in front of a record turnout of stakeholders, funders and supporters of RAS. 

 The organisation recipients were:

  • The Newtown Union Health Centre (NUHC), a multidiscipline team dedicated to working with refugees who have worked closely with RAS for over 12 years.
  • The Wellington Community Law Centre, which delivers a range of programmes for refugees. Their Immigration team works closely with RAS on family reunification. 
  • The Refugee Family Reunification Trust, who have been responsible for bringing hundreds of refugee background individuals and families to NZ to join family who came through the Immigration NZ quota programme. Many of these quota refugees have been RAS clients and the RFRT raises money for airfares and other costs such as international documentation.

[caption id="attachment_12871" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Trustee Ismail Ibrahim (left) and Amanda Calder Trust Chair (right) receiving their award from Mayor of wellington Celia Wade-Brown (center)"][/caption]

The individual recipients were; Donna Roy (Massage Therapist), Angela Aye (Book Author) and Maire Christeller (Nurse).

 Checkout the WNRAS website for more information.

After the Christchurch earthquakes, Afghan community leader Abdul Qayum Salimi wanted to support his community to receive first aid training.

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Refugee Services’ Southern Region Manager Anne-Marie Reynolds decided to take up the project and worked with Christchurch Resettlement Services, Partnership Health Canterbury and New Zealand Red Cross, to hold culturally appropriate training courses not just for members of the Afghan community but also the Bhutanese, Nepalese, Somali, Ethiopian and Eritrean communities. In all, 105 refugee background men and women earned their Red Cross first aid certification through the courses.

“When Abdul came to us about first aid training for his community, we were very keen to support the project,” says Anne-Marie. “As more communities responded also wanting to learn first aid, the project grew and grew. Partnership Health Canterbury generously provided the funds, and Christchurch Resettlement Services and New Zealand Red Cross all came together with us to make it happen.”

For one of the new first aiders, earning her certificate in first aid has helped her feel more prepared to deal with emergencies that might arise in the future. “After the earthquake, we didn’t know what to do,” she says. “Now I have the knowledge from this training. I know now how I can help myself or my family, so it is really good. When people finished the training, they were telling how happy they feel with the knowledge they gained,” she adds. “They say ‘now we know what to do.’”

“We are so pleased with the success of the first aid courses,” says Refugee Services Southern Region Manager Anne-Marie Reynolds. “The past year has been very challenging to a lot of people in Christchurch, including members of the refugee community. To support 105 of them to earn their first aid certification and feel more confident and more prepared to help in the event of a future emergency has been very rewarding. We’re very grateful to everyone who supported the project, and we’re looking forward to doing more courses in the new year!”

Settling into a new school can be difficult for anyone, but young people from refugee backgrounds can find it particularly hard. 

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Bullying is not just about getting beaten up. It can include name-calling, intimidation and ostracism. For refugee-background young people, it includes being mocked for their accent, their clothing, the colour of their skin.

“How bullying affects us: refugee-background youth talk back” is a  resource that explores the impact of bullying on refugee-background  high school students.

ChangeMakers Refugee Forum and Voice Arts Trust worked with “Collabor8” a group of eight refugee-background youth who live in the Wellington region documenting youth views about bullying and designing a drama, which was performed on World Refugee Day 2011.

Insights into life as a refugee-background student as well as Collabor8’s performance are now available on DVD to schools, communities and organisations. A booklet with information about how bullying affects refugee-background youth and bullying as a human rights issue comes with the DVD. It includes discussion guides for educators, schools, families and communities, and a comprehensive list of places to go for more information and support.

The DVD and booklet are for now available for sale $10 for individuals / $20 for schools and NGO’s / $30 for government agencies.  Go to www.crf.org.nz to download an order form or contact Alia Bloom  04 801 5812.

On Tuesday, 8 November, Refugee Services launched a brand new campaign to raise funds for their refugee background caseworkers.

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The campaign features videos in which viewers can meet some of the caseworkers and learn a bit more about the role.

For Wellington caseworker Dennis Maang, the position is an opportunity to help people who are going through challenges he himself faced during his resettlement process. “I fled my home all by myself when I was 26 years old,” he says. “I know how it feels to be a refugee. As a caseworker, I get to support others who are starting again like I did. I get to show them they can do it.”

Chandra Dahal, Refugee Services’ Nelson Caseworker, lived in a refugee camp in Nepal for 18 years before he came to New Zealand. “I met my wife there; my children were born there. When we finally came here, we were blank, totally lost,” he says. “Now that I am a caseworker, I can help others who come here without knowing the culture, the systems, the technology. I understand how it feels to lose everything.”

“Our caseworkers do invaluable work, and we are so grateful to have each of them on our staff,” says Heather. “We are excited that this new campaign will give people the opportunity to support refugees who are starting again and also to support our refugee background caseworkers on their professional journeys. Together with our partners we can make a real difference in so many lives.”

For more information and to meet some of Refugee Services’ caseworkers visit the Refugee Services website.

In October, Refugee Services Palmerston North staff held their first volunteer appreciation evening in their new office in the former Guthrie Bowron premises on Taonui Street.

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The event served as an opportunity to recognise 18 volunteer support workers who had recently completed their certificates in refugee resettlement support. It also welcomed special guest, MP Iain Lees-Galloway, who officially opened the new office.

Refugee Services’ Chief Executive Heather Hayden attended the event, excited for the Palmerston North staff to have moved from their previous space in which they were “a bit crowded. The fact that we need this new space is a testament to the success our Palmerston North manager Kevin Petersen has had in finding ways to increase the support offered to newly arrived refugees in the area.”

Mr. Lees-Galloway said the larger size of the new office showed just how important and influential Refugee Services had become. He also shared how he had heard some of the stories of families who had resettled in Palmerston North, saying they were all different, all challenging. He said it was amazing families hold it together as they made the big move, and he recognised the accomplishments of the volunteers as well, saying that to be a volunteer helping refugees to resettle takes someone "magnificent".

“All of our supporters in Palmerston North, from our volunteers to our donors to our government and NGO partners, have helped us grow over the years,” says Heather. “We wouldn’t be able to do our work without them, and we are very happy that our new space will have a bit more room for all of them to visit.”