Wellington Refugees as Survivors Trust (Wellington RAS)

Formed in 1997 the Wellington Refugees as Survivors Trust is an independent Wellington-based organisation providing support services to communities in the region.RAS is a registered charity with the Charities commission #20880

Wellington Refugees as Survivors Trust’s mission is to provide:

  • Specialist mental health services for refugees who have experienced trauma and torture
  • Support and capacity building for their families and communities.

For information about Wellington RAS, you can visit their website.

Projects 2012
Core WNRAS Service

WNRAS employs a multidisciplinary team which provides a counselling and advocacy service for refugee background adults, children and families. This service is the core work programme.

The core service includes: individual assessments and specialist assessments; individual and family therapeutic interventions (as culturally appropriate); ability to co-work with other service providers (including schools)

As a client you can expect to:

  • talk in confidence to someone who has an understanding of the issues involved in the refugee and exile experience.
  • be referred to other health and medical services.
  • receive support in accessing other mainstream agencies involved in facilitating re-settlement.
  • receive assistance with adaptation to life in New Zealand.

Interpreters are available to assist clients.

Refugee Safety and Wellbeing Day

The Refugee Communities Safety and Wellbeing day was held on 19 October 2011. Over 20 organisations (including the Wellington City Council, NZ Police, NZ Fire Service, and Emergency Preparedness) were involved in presenting this day for all refugees. ACC and WNRAS were the lead agencies. Over two hundred refugee families of different ethnicities and cultures came to learn about how they could access various services and resources to help with their safety and wellbeing. Some of the activities included live demonstrations, massage, cultural dances and story reading and face painting for the children. It is intended that this event will take place for 2012.

RAS Awards

As part of the AGM, WNRAS did present 3 awards to people and organisations who have made outstanding contributions through RAS to the Wellington refugee communities.

For 2011, Donna Roy (Massage Therapist), Angela Aye (Book Author), Marie Christeller (Porirua Community & Union Health) was recognised for their contributions. The three awards for organisations went to Wellington Community Law Centre, Newtown Union Health Service and the Refugee Family Reunification Trust in recognition of their work. The Mayor of Wellington Celia Wade-Brown presented the inaugural awards.

FICT  Programme Pilot

The Families in Cultural Transition (FICT) programme has been piloted in Lower Hutt and Porirua for the Burmese Communities. Prior to that a 4 day training programme for bilingual facilitators was held with Mohamed Dukuly from STARTTS Sydney, Australia.

  • FICT is a ten module programme for refugees who have been in New Zealand less than two years. It is a group based programme designed to assist refugee families with the process associated in making a cultural transition.
  • FICT modules are facilitated by bilingual facilitators.
  • RAS invited the STARTTS FICT Training Manager to train ten bilingual facilitators and a senior staff member from each of Refugee Services Aotearoa NZ and Wellington RAS.
  • The bilingual facilitators are equipped with a comprehensive package of resources to help groups of refugees deal better with the process of adjusting to their new home.
  • FICT aims to:
    • reduce social isolation in refugee families
    • strengthen family relationships by providing relationship, communication and parenting skills
    • normalise symptoms and responses to migration and trauma
    • help early identification of more serious psychological problems as well as problems with family dynamics
    • develop capacities of refugee communities through training and support of bicultural facilitators.
Home Safety Programme

The Home Safety programme is delivered to small refugee background groups in their own community by two facilitators, at least one of whom speaks the participation group’s language.

The programme is a series of photos that show refugee families doing something wrong (e.g. no guard on an open fire) and then another photo doing it right (e.g. showing a guard to cover a fireplace). The photos show all aspects of home safety, including some outside, e.g. playing on the footpath; wearing helmets while riding bikes etc.

Samson Sahele the WNRAS Cross Cultural Advocate has developed the home safety programme, trained facilitators, and delivered the programme to a range of refugee background communities. The programme is now being developed in partnership with Refugee Services as part of their induction programme for new arrivals.

Tamariki Kahukura: The Rainbow Programme

The Tamariki Kahukura Programme supports refugee children to make the best possible start to resettlement in New Zealand. Whilst acknowledging the stresses inherent in the refugee experience and the settlement challenges facing refugee children and their families, the programme strongly emphasises the development of hope and a positive sense of the future.

Tamariki Kahukura is a school-based programme for 9 to 12 year olds. It requires collaboration between school staff and specialists with expertise in working with people from refugee backgrounds to strengthen children’s learning capacity and emotional adjustment. The Programme also aims to foster stronger links between schools and parents of refugee children through specialised staff development and teacher-parent sessions. It is an early intervention measure designed to establish constructive relationships between children, schools and

Books of Short Stories

WNRAS is very proud of its publication of the two books of short stories written by young former refugees. Contact Wellington RAS directly for moredetails.

  • Earthless Trees published in 2008 comprised 11 short stories by 4 authors. This sold over 1,000 copies and is now out of production 
  • Beyond the Dark Journey was published in December 2010 and is a collection of 27 short stories and poems by 8 young former refugees. Beyond the Dark Journey is still in print and can be purchased for $25 plus $5 postage. For details please click on Purchase Beyond the Dark Journey. So far over 1,200 copies sold.
Art Project

Free to Fly 2010 was a one-day collaborative art project between WNRAS and Wellesley College- Eastbourne and St Bernadette’s School- Naenae. It was broadly based around the theme, Free to Fly. Using personification of birds, participating pupils drew and then painted a work, which spoke of optimism and the idea that anything is possible. Pupils used manikins to draw the human form and study bird pictures before combining them to both illustrate the above theme. Their artwork was exhibited in the Multicultural Services Centre for 2 months. 30 children aged 9-12 years from both schools participated in the Free to Fly 2010 Art Project at the Wellesley College Art Room, under the guidance of Eve Warren the Wellesley College Art teacher. Owing to the success of the programme a similar programmewas held in 2011 involving refugee-background children from St Michael’s School.

Refugee Youth Media Project

In 2009-10 WNRAS collaborated with ChangeMakers Refugee Forum to deliver the Refugee Youth Media Project. The objectives of the project were to:

  • Allow young people from refugee backgrounds to tell real-life stories about their backgrounds, culture, faith, families, issues, hopes, dreams and. life in New Zealand.
  • Promote awareness and understanding in the host community using the youth voice of refugee experiences in New Zealand also to promote understanding of youth issues amongst refugee communities and increase the value placed on youth input into community work.
  • Teach young people from refugee backgrounds, skills in print media, TV, radio and online media.
  • Improve refugee youth’s critical media literacy skills.

The unique features of the Refugee Youth Media Project are:

  • It is group-based – young refugee background people receive hours of training on all aspects of media skills to understand how the local media addresses refugee’s issues. Also it helps them cope with the cultural shock and the on-going trauma of adapting to a new culture.
  • It targets the most marginalised, traumatised and faceless young refugee people in Wellington. Also, upon arrival in Wellington they are still trying to deal with the cultural shock of moving to a large city.

The programme was a huge success and further work is being planned.

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