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Marlbrough Migrant Report Voice to Silent Minority

Human Rights Commission
Media Release
5 October 2006

Migrant Report Gives Voice to Silent Minority in Marlborough

A new report on migrant social services in Marlborough is a timely wake-up call for the Marlborough community, says Race Relations Commissioner, Joris de Bres.

Settling in Marlborough was launched in Blenheim this week before an audience of over 150 people.

Mr de Bres told the meeting that the report, which includes the detailed outcome of ten migrant focus groups in the region, had given the silent migrant minority a voice.

“The report makes it clear that migrants are an essential ingredient in Marlborough’s future prosperity,” Mr de Bres said.

“Cultural and religious diversity are an existing reality in the region and catering for them is an economic and social imperative. Marlborough has an ageing population, youth out-migration and a significant need for labour to maintain and increase economic growth.

“It’s in everyone’s interest that Marlborough’s migrants feel welcome and valued for who they are and what they bring.”

The report was produced by a working group of community groups and local and central government agencies, supported by the Ministry of Social Development, at the invitation of Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman.

Key issues identified by focus group participants were:
- access to information and services
- more flexibility in English language teaching provision
- racial discrimination
- the recognition of overseas qualifications
- celebrating cultural festivals and events
- and the need for more research on transient migrant workers, particularly in relation to anecdotal reports of unsatisfactory conditions in housing and employment.

The Mayor expressed Council support for the report’s recommendation that a Marlborough Migrant Centre and a newcomers’ network be established and told the meeting that steps had already been taken towards achieving this.

Mr de Bres said he hoped that Marlborough organisations including the private sector would use the report as a basis for positive action, as everyone had a role to play. High attendance at the launch of the report and the big turnout at Marlborough’s first multicultural festival for Race Relations Day earlier this year were very encouraging signs of positive community attitudes, he said.

ENDS

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