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Need for Targeted Health Services for Refugees


18 June 2014

Red Cross Pilot Shows Need for Targeted Health Services for Refugees

New Zealand Red Cross Refugee Services is urging New Zealand’s health agencies to plan, advocate for and address the health needs of former refugees.

To mark World Refugee Day New Zealand Red Cross has released two reports on the health and wellbeing of former refugees and on refugee youth experiences. Both will be launched at an event at Parliament tomorrow, Thursday, 19 June.

The health and wellbeing report finds that New Zealand’s former refugee community has benefited from intensive education about New Zealand’s healthcare system.

The report was based on a pilot health education project that ran from 2012 to 2013 in Wellington and Manawatu. The project worked with 167 families (358 individuals) from the Colombian, Myanmar and Bhutanese former refugee communities.

The project recorded a decrease in the numbers of people who said they smoked cigarettes, and an increased awareness of the symptoms of meningitis.

Before the project started just 44% of those involved said they had any knowledge of cancer screening. This later increased to 96%. Knowledge of sexual health and reproductive services increased from 20% to 93%.

“It was very positive for our family to get to know about the services available for us in this new country,” says Jenny, a former Colombian refugee living in Wellington.

National Refugee Services manager Molly Kennedy says the report helps Red Cross understand what New Zealand can do to provide the best possible start for new refugees.

“This report should be essential reading for any agency working with refugees in New Zealand, particularly health professionals ,” she says. @NZRedCross

“Red Cross will be working with refugee communities and service providers to implement the report’s recommendations.”

The second report on refugee youth found that service providers need cultural information to ensure they understand refugees’ journeys.

It found that former refugee youth (12-24 years) struggle to understand New Zealand culture and the education system, find it hard to get work and that most youth had experienced bullying.

“Over the last year we have run a number of successful youth projects, including sports days and anti-bullying programmes,” Mrs Kennedy says.

“There are a number of suggestions in the report where Red Cross can make a difference, and we are excited to work with other agencies to make these happen. Red Cross is committed to helping refugees of all ages settle successfully in New Zealand,” she says.

Red Cross Refugee Services helps empower people from refugee backgrounds to achieve their goals and contribute to their new home in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

World Refugee Day is celebrated globally on June 20.

To read the two reports in full go to:




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