Refugee Services Aotearoa New Zealand

Refugee Services is New Zealand’s leading refugee resettlement agency providing social and practical support to 750 refugees per year who arrive through the UNHCR quota programme. Currently refugees are settled in Auckland, Waikato, Manawatu, Greater Wellington and Nelson. The Christchurch resettlement programme is temporarily suspended, but our team continues to provide post-earthquake support to former refugees in the area.

The outcomes of our work are economic participation, social participation and good health and wellbeing.

Good health and wellbeing is a predetermining factor in successful economic and social participation. The refugees arriving here are vulnerable people with different types of high and complex needs. Twenty percent of them are “women at risk” and people with medical problems and/or disabilities. Refugees have particularly high needs as a result of their refugee experience which may include torture, trauma, multiple loss, grief and malnourishment. The majority of households require much support prior to them being able to access mainstream services independently after their arrival in New Zealand.

This support is provided through our comprehensive social and practical services which are implemented for a minimum of one year by professionally trained teams of social workers, cross cultural workers and caseworkers. Volunteers, trained through our NZQA programme, support the refugees and these teams during the first six months of each family’s resettlement.

Each refugee family has their own Pathway to Settlement plan which has “markers” to note their achievements during resettlement and this tracks their progress towards social and economic participation. The Pathways to Employment programme supports adult refugees into self-determined durable employment.

Visit the website of Refugee Services Aotearoa

Projects 2012
Health and wellbeing

A refugee household-focused health and wellbeing project.

• To build capacity of refugee households to prevent disease, to promote good health and build healthy lifestyles
• To improve access to health services
•To more quickly achieve success indicators in the NZ Refugee Resettlement Strategy

Implementing strategies:
•Creating supportive environment to improve understanding about health issues for newly resettling refugees
• Participatory capacity building and awareness raising, development of health enhancing personal skills
• Strengthen the links between refugee families and health and social service providers.

Refugee Services will run participatory good health, healthy lifestyles and advocacy programmes with adults and children in refugee households and with refugee community groups of the same ethnic background. Trained community health workers, who are former refugees, will carry out the activities with the support of public health specialists.

The project, through the home visiting education programme, will build on and develop the knowledge and resourcefulness of refugee households. This community based programme is an effective mechanism for shifting health care resources from a “medical model” to a “household/community model” where households have the ability to manage and maintain their own good health status.

This pilot project will work with 500 individuals in 200 refugee households. The project’s direct beneficiaries are three recently resettled refugee communities: Burmese, Bhutanese and Colombians in Greater Wellington and Manawatu.


Refugee Services manages two targeted career and employment programmes for former refugees – one in Wellington: Pathways to Employment and the other in Waikato: Refugee Works.

The Service targets both newly arrived and established former refugees and provides full language and skills assessments and an employment plan setting out the steps needed towards achieving the clients employment goals. Clients are supported and mentored over time and assisted in language learning, education, work experience and employment.

World Refugee Day

Hagley Community College, Canterbury Refugee Council and Refugee Services invite you to come together in honour of World Refugee Day Wednesday, 20 June 2012 from 5:45 PM to 8:00 PM at Hagley Community College (Cafeteria at Library). The programme includes refugee background youth speakers, static and book displays, cultural performances and refreshments. Click here to see the flyer.

Contact: Heather Hayden,

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