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UN World Refugee Day reception - Marian Hobbs

Hon Marian Hobbs
20 June 2003 Speech Notes

UN World Refugee Day reception, Grand Hall, Parliament

Welcome to you all – refugee agencies, NZ immigration, members of refugee community and their supporters.

Labour’s vision for New Zealand is a society that is outward looking, tolerant, accepting, interesting and dynamic.

The New Zealand Immigration Programme introduced by the government last term assists in implementing this vision, while also putting a strong focus on resettlement outcomes for refugees.

Education is a key component of the successful resettlement of refugees and settlement of migrants in New Zealand, and we have invested in it for the benefit of all.

The focus for World Refugee Day this year is on Youth, celebrating their many strengths, their huge potential and their capacity to help themselves and their communities.

UNHCR's aim "is to provide refugee youth with a heightened sense of value and self-worth; to help them gather their strength and courage, spread their wings…and fly!"

Growing into adulthood is challenging no matter who you are.

Young people with a refugee background have extra challenges –coping with trauma, missed schooling, learning a new language, bridging two cultures, parents who are disempowered financially and in terms of cultural knowledge, and just 'being different'.

Commend the Refugee Youth Leadership Programme a joint project between Wellington Refugee as Survivors, Refugee and Migrant service and the Boys and Girls Institute.

Using adventure-based learning, the programme aims to provide support to young people facing those challenges and to strenghen communities in the long-term by developing leadership skills and cross-community understanding of future community leaders .

Young leaders develop confidence, trust and respect, teamwork, conflict-resolution, awareness of opportunities. (see attached note)

Critical to young refugees recovering from traumatic experiences is a welcoming and supportive environment.

Anxiety and adjusting to resettlement can impact hugely on young peoples' competency in school and on their self esteem.

The government has committed significant support for young people at school through the Ministry of Education's Refugee Co-ordinator positions.

The excellent work that this ministry team has initiated (eg learning support, after-school homework study groups) is reinforced by community commitment.

The International Handbook to Guide Resettlement was published last year with input from NZ government agencies and NGOs.

As the handbook points out, we need the combination of the specialist support at government agency level, as well as the caring support of the community that is welcoming and committed to the potential that these young people bring to our nation.

It's that combination we celebrate today.

ENDS

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