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66% Refugee Unemployment Unacceptable

66% Refugee Unemployment Unacceptable

“Two-thirds of refugees being out of work five years after their arrival in New Zealand is totally unacceptable and an appalling indictment on how we are handling refugee resettlement,” according to Professor Max Abbott.

Professor Abbott is Director of the Auckland University of Technology Centre for Asian and Migrant Health Research. He coordinated and co-chaired the first national conference on refugee resettlement and wellbeing in 1988. He was responding to an Immigration Department report released today.

“This is of particular concern given that this country is experiencing its highest employment levels for over a decade. If it is this bad now, what will it be like when jobs are in short supply?”

“This is also something that has been known about since the 1980s when it was one of the major factors identified as a barrier to positive adaptation to life in New Zealand.”

“In many ways New Zealand does well and has a good reputation internationally for its approach to refugee matters. Government, voluntary organisations and local communities do some great work with refugees and asylum seekers.”

Professor Abbott said that research by him and others has found that unemployment is a major health hazard for recent migrants and refugees, compromising their adaptation to life in New Zealand and adversely effecting individual and family wellbeing.

“It is gratifying to learn today that government will allocate additional funds to assist with English language programmes. While this will help it is important to consult fully with refugee communities and other organisations working with refugees to ensure that other barriers to employment are addressed. It is critically important to get people into jobs as soon as possible. It is far more of a challenge to do so after people have been out of work for many years.”

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