New Zealand Diversity Forum 23 August 2010<br />NZ National Refugee Network Forum<br />Overview by Adam Awad <br />At the ...
NZ National Refugee Network Forum Overview
NZ National Refugee Network Forum Overview
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NZ National Refugee Network Forum Overview

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NZ National Refugee Network Forum Overview

  1. 1. New Zealand Diversity Forum 23 August 2010<br />NZ National Refugee Network Forum<br />Overview by Adam Awad <br />At the workshop yesterday on successes and challenges in Christchurch, the Bhutanese community – they’re new – they’re still getting established here - said their problems are overcrowding, being put in houses next to gangs so they get beaten up, being put in areas where they can’t get work. They said the welfare system’s a nightmare – people aren’t given enough time to learn the language. There are too many changes in the welfare system. It’s difficult for all NZers but a complete nightmare for them. They talked about the lack of support to maintain their own language and culture. There’s no proper assessment of their transferable skills. They say ‘we’re not learning English that gets us into jobs – learning the language of the trade we need to be working in’. <br />What the Bhutanese said yesterday is what refugee background communities have been saying consistently for many, many years. What it tells me is that resettlement programmes are not being successful.<br />That’s why we formed the national network. That’s why we have a collective voice. That’s why we want one national resettlement plan that’s done in collaboration with former refugees. <br />That’s why we need every one of you to work with every one of us, not as individuals but as a whole. We’re all here to make a difference. We’re here to work together. We all have a role to play. We just need to learn how we can make sure all our roles fit together so that we achieve the overall goal – successful resettlement. We have NGOs and government here for years – serving us. We have former refugees who’ve established themselves, their forums and their networks. This isn’t happening in other countries. We agree in so many areas. We don’t agree in all areas. But let’s not get stuck on what we don’t agree on. Many of you contributed so many resources and time to get where we are now. But you must know that our issues are changing, in terms of how we work with you at local, regional and national levels. What we are doing at the national level is advocating for policy change. <br />We’re not paid to do this work. But it’s us who wants to integrate. I want to speak specifically to the service providers here. We’re here to help you do the jobs you are paid to do. We want you to be successful. We have the issues. You have the resource. Unless we match these very openly, very honestly, it will take longer to integrate and there will be more damage inside our communities and in the wider society. We cannot afford this. NZ needs our skills and knowledge as much as we need a place to belong. <br />When we had the refugee wellbeing conference in Auckland last year, the whole sector agreed on 6 priorities – many of us have worked on different parts of these priorities. Today is about finding out what progress we’ve made towards these. This Diversity Forum creates an opportunity for us to find out from some of the key people where things are at. We in the National Refugee Network have been very busy campaigning to get agreement across the refugee sector on these priorities and to get them into action.<br />We’re learning a lot from Maori and Pacific peoples who’ve had the same issues as us. They have the same problems communicating with the system as us – proper listening, proper engagement, proper consultation. They’ve raised all these issues. All ethnic communities have these issues. The way it’s been done has not worked. So often these groups say to us – we’ve been working on that for the last 60 years, or the last 150 years. We don’t want to wait for another 150 years. We want to find a way that works for us now – and for Maori, and for Pasifika people, and for ethnic groups – and for Pakeha!<br />When the client questions the service deliverers, the service people sometimes get uptight and frustrated. But what do you think the client feels when their needs haven’t been met? Why can’t we make a different way of working so the needs of both the service deliverers and the clients are met? This is what we mean by a new collaboration. It’s not one where the client keeps quiet because they’re too scared to say anything real to the service provider, in case they lose the service, or funding is withdrawn from their organisation, or their reputations are questioned. It’s one where we both engage with each other, trying our best to respect and understand each other. From this process we can be very efficient. Because we will know what really needs to happen to achieve what we all want.<br />One thing about the service - client model is that there’s no space in it to recognise what ‘clients’ do for themselves. The accountability systems don’t show that our communities are providing services for their own communities. People watching out for each other – looking for jobs for each other, trying to sort each others’ housing problems, looking after each other when they’re sick, They’re making sure our languages are passed on, creating employment networks as Bal has in Palmerston North and supporting their own children with their education. It’s the Bhutanese in Christchurch who provide most support to other Bhutanese – not a service provider. We’re not saying we don’t need the service provider. We’re saying let’s build what we do into the whole picture. The question for those who hold the resources should be – how can we support the communities to do the work they’re doing? <br />Look at the work of uniting communities. This is a huge job in itself. With ChangeMakers in Wellington it took four years of genuine dialogue amongst the leaders of the different communities before we could come together as one organisation. Look at the Somali groups in Christchurch. They brought their Somali tribal wars with them and it’s been impossible to bring them together as one community. But the community leaders have worked on this. And now for the first time, there is agreement – there is one Somali collective voice in Christchurch. Another example is the Burmese community in Wellington. There were 5 separate tribes, all wanting their own organisations. We worked with them so they now have one shared voice.<br />Many of you will know of Mason Durie – a Maori academic who developed a model of public health called Te Pae Mähutonga. When Professor Durie introduced this model in a speech he gave in 1999, he said ‘if programmes are imposed with little sense of community ownership or control they don’t work.’ This is why we need to change how programmes are developed .<br />He also said that programmes need to be delivered using local customs. For refugee resettlement, this means, for example, if you want to teach older women English, you need to be asking the community leaders some questions: what are the teaching methods these women are comfortable with? Where should the teaching happen? Who can these women most easily learn from?<br /> Professor Durie also says ‘often most progress will be made by bringing the leaders together.’ That’s what the National Refugee Network has done. Let’s work with it. <br />So how do we create real understanding? We can’t be consulted on every aspect of our lives. We need a holistic approach. That’s where our regional forums and the National Network can be used. With a bit of resource we can manage all the dialogue amongst the communities. And share this with policy makers. We can engage with the government and the NGOs to find ways of combining our skills and knowledge with your resources – that’s what will achieve successful resettlement.<br />

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