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New Office Of Ethnic Affairs

A new Office of Ethnic Affairs has been established within the Department of Internal Affairs.

The Office of Ethnic Affairs, which supersedes the Ethnic Affairs service created in 1992, will be launched at 6pm on May 1, at the Grand Hall, Parliament Buildings by the Minister of Ethnic Affairs, Hon. George Hawkins.

"This office will work towards ensuring that ethnic communities are seen, heard, included and accepted in New Zealand society, especially in the areas of policy development and the delivery of government services," says Ethnic Affairs Acting Director, Sonja Rathgen.

The President of the NZ Federation of Ethnic Councils (NZFEC), Weng Kei Chen says he has been looking forward to this development for a long time.

"It means that the office can work to ensure that ethnic communities inputs are considered or included in government decisions." he said.

The Office of Ethnic Affairs provides policy advice and information to both government and non-government agencies and runs an information and referral service for ethnic communities.

It will also work to encourage acceptance and respect for diverse cultures and languages in the wider society.

The Office, which is currently looking at the whole policy on interpreting services and developing nationwide links with ethnic communities is staffed by three community advisors, based in Auckland and Wellington and two policy analysts.

The Ministerial portfolio for Ethnic Affairs was created by the Labour - Alliance Government in December 1999

The staff of the Office of Ethnic Affairs is : Deborah Burns, Senior Policy Analyst Vas Gavriel, Senior Policy Analyst Craig Nicholson, Community Advisor Janifa Janif, Community Advisor (Auckland) Fezeela Raza, Community Advisor (Auckland)

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