Report gives migrant community a voice

Performing a traditional dance from Kiribati in Dunedin last night are (from left) Roi Burnett ...
Performing a traditional dance from Kiribati in Dunedin last night are (from left) Roi Burnett (16), Iacinta Lucas (19), Annie Baiteke (19), Tekatau Bio (21), Kotee Bauri Teburea (21) and Tamaua Moriati (23). Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Access to information and services, cold houses, a lack of interpreters and social isolation are some the most significant issues facing migrants to Dunedin, according to the migrants themselves.

More than 270 migrants from 43 different ethnic communities living in Dunedin have contributed to a report on social services for migrants in the city, which suggests more work needs to be done to improve the way these residents are welcomed to their new home, if the city wants migrants to continue coming here.

The report, Settling in Dunedin, was launched at a celebration attended by more than 150 people at George St Normal School last night.

The report's production was led by Brigid Ryan, of the Settling In initiative from the the Ministry of Social Development's family and community services section, with support from the council's settlement support co-ordinator, Fi McKay.

Ms Ryan said it was the first time the issues, which were known to be there, had been researched and pulled together and outlined in a single place.

Some of the report's recommendations had already been actioned - a new migrant communityco-ordinator had been appointed and was based at Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora. An online newcomers' network had been created to help new migrants meet people and make friends.

Joris de Bres.
Joris de Bres.
Over the next year, the focus would be on the report's other recommendations, which focused on dealing with migrants' main issues, including promoting socialisation activities for newcomers and work to connect better with Pacific communities and leaders, who were difficult to reach in the consultation process.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said migrant communities had played a role in Dunedin for a long time, significantly the Chinese and Lebanese communities, and the report gave the city's current migrant community a voice.

It was a vehicle for people to see how newcomers saw the city.

How they were treated was indicative of how a place developed, either as a rich and diverse culture, or as a place that people wanted to leave, he said.

He noted Dunedin had more professional migrants than other cities, and more international students, and migrants were more likely to speak English. However, more English as a second language services were still needed.

"You're lucky in the migrants you get, and you want to make sure they like it here," he said.


Key issues

• Access to information and services.

• A lack of focus on retaining skilled migrants.

• Housing.

• Social isolation of women and older migrants.

• Lack of co-ordinated support for migrants.

• Language issues.

• Lack of support for young migrants and international students.

SOURCE: Settling in Dunedin


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