Change looms for support service

A national restructuring of Immigration New Zealand services may affect availability of settlement support services in Dunedin.

The restructuring would result in settlement co-ordinators replaced with a national settlement information service, eight retention specialists stationed throughout the country, and phone and email support for migrants.

The move follows the closing of Dunedin's Immigration Office last year.

The changes would come into effect when Immigration New Zealand's contract with the Dunedin City Council for settlement support provision ends on June 30.

When contacted, the council referred The Star to the Ministry of Business Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) which confirmed that, from July, all settlement information would be located on one website instead of the 18 different sites that exist currently.

All phone calls and emails handled by Settlement Support New Zealand would be dealt with by the Immigration Contact Centre. Access to interpreters would also be available through Language Line.

MBIE would have a team of eight ''retention specialists'' in regions. Immigration New Zealand Settlement, protection and attraction general manager Steve McGill said there would be a national tender process to find a service provider that could give face-to-face information to immigrants using existing infrastructure.

That process would be completed by June 30. The location of the retention specialists would be so as to service all parts of the country. It was likely there would be one to service the South, Mr McGill said.

The present budget for settlement support was about $1.8 million and the changes would either be fiscally neutral or have some efficiency gains, he said.

The decision to implement a new settlement information delivery model was made following an independent review of SSNZ.

Dunedin Multi-Ethnic Council president Beryl Lee said the changes would put a new perspective on services and it remained to be seen what the benefit would be.

The current Dunedin settlement support officer had been very effective, especially in having face-to-face meetings with migrants.

As the new person would be covering a much wider area, she thought they would be less able to have face-to-face meetings.

However, it was to early to say whether the changes would be positive or negative, she said.

 

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