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Phone Interpreting Service for Ethnic Communities

13 July 2002
Telephone Interpreting Service for Ethnic Communities

A nationwide telephone interpreting service will be a priority for the next Labour Government, Ethnic Affairs Minister George Hawkins says.

Announcing the party’s Ethnic Affairs policy today, Mr Hawkins says a telephone interpreting service will give members of New Zealand’s growing ethnic communities better access to a range of Government services, including health services.

These could also include the Ministry of Social Development, including Work and Income, Accident Compensation, the Police, Immigration Service, Housing New Zealand and Internal Affairs, including the Identity Services, Ethnic Affairs, and the Community Development Group, with professional interpreters.

Mr Hawkins said other priorities for Labour’s second term include:

• Continuing to develop the Ethnic Affairs portfolio and strengthening the Office of Ethnic Affairs.

• Consulting with ethnic communities and incorporating their views into policy affecting ethnic communities in New Zealand.

• Ensuring members of ethnic communities are fairly represented in appointments to boards and other agencies.

• Establishing an appointments database in the Office of Ethnic Affairs.

• Maintaining a fair and equitable immigration policy that recognises the value of migrants to New Zealand and preserves family based migration.

• Continuing to enforce New Zealand human rights legislation and the ban on discrimination on the basis of race or ethnic origin.

• Promoting cooperation within government that benefits new migrants and members of established ethnic communities – such as increased capacity for English tuition, migrant settlement support and the settlement of refugees.

• Developing an Adult ESOL Strategy relevant to new migrants and speakers of English as a second language.

• Continuing to assist new migrants to find suitable jobs in New Zealand.

• Cooperating with regional and local government and the private sector to expand services available to new migrants, particularly in the main urban centers.

• Developing a policy framework relevant to all government departments when dealing with ethnic communities. This framework will provide guidelines in three important areas: policy development, consultation, and responsiveness to the needs of ethnic communities.

“Ethnic New Zealanders contribute to New Zealand’s economic, social and cultural development and the priority for Labour as a Government that welcomes and celebrates their role is to ensure ethnic communities are supported,” Mr Hawkins said.

“Labour’s policy is aimed at ensuring ethnic communities find it easier to integrate successfully into life in New Zealand,” Mr Hawkins said.

Established by the present government in 2001 and based in the Department of Internal Affairs, the Office of Ethnic Affairs provides information to ethnic groups constituting more than 10 per cent of New Zealand’s population.

ENDS

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