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Help available to ethnic communities in Christchurch

Hon Hekia Parata
Minister for Ethnic Affairs

25 February 2011

Help available to ethnic communities in Christchurch

Ethnic Affairs Minister Hekia Parata says the Government is doing all it can to support ethnic communities affected by the Christchurch earthquake.

“The Office of Ethnic Affairs is contacting ethnic organisations in Christchurch to let them know about specialist services available to their communities, such as Language Line,” says Ms Parata.

The Language Line provides a service to those people who speak little or no English and there are 41 languages available. The Language Line can be accessed by phoning 0800 779 997 and speaking to an operator.

“Language barriers can make life even more difficult for people at times such as this, so it’s great that we have the Language Line available.”

The Office of Ethnic Affairs has also sent out posters to ethnic community meeting points detailing key agencies to contact in emergencies. These posters were developed after the September earthquake and continue to be a vital resource in connecting ethnic people to relevant agencies. The posters have been produced in a number of languages including Mandarin, Korean, Thai and Arabic.

Ms Parata praises the overwhelming support ethnic communities are providing to Cantabrians during this crisis.

“A number of welfare centres have been established by ethnic groups to cater to the specific needs of their communities – these centres are vital in ensuring that the language and cultural needs of ethnic people are addressed.

“There has also been fundraising support from ethnic communities outside of Christchurch.”

Ms Parata is planning a visit to Christchurch early next week to meet with ethnic communities and other groups affected by the earthquake.

“All Ethnic Affairs staff in Christchurch have been significantly affected by the earthquake – the Ethnic Affairs building is uninhabitable.

“I will be meeting with the many ethnic organisations supporting others during this time to acknowledge their efforts and support them where I can.”

ENDS

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