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More migrants, less support – equation doesn’t add up

Media Release

18 December is International Migrants Day:

More migrants, less support – an equation that doesn’t add up

(Tauranga, 18 December 2013) December 18 is International Migrants Day. What should be a day to celebrate the value migrants bring to New Zealand is reason for the Tauranga Regional Multicultural Council (TRMC) to draw attention to an unsettling report.

Lyn Provost, Controller and Auditor-General of New Zealand, reports on Immigration New Zealand’s role in supporting new migrants to settle and work. She finds serious shortcomings in the governance of the government’s settlement strategy, a lack of cooperation between government agencies, inadequate use of existing resources, insufficient monitoring, and poor evaluation and monitoring frameworks.

The report says that Immigration New Zealand has “narrowly interpreted its role in coordinating the governance of settlement support throughout government” and sees this as a “missed opportunity.”

TRMC President Ewa Fenn is particularly worried about services being reduced at local level or shifted online altogether, obviously in an effort to save money for brick-and-mortar offices and face-to-face information and advice. “I am quite concerned about the closing down of immigration offices. It was already difficult for people from our area to travel to Hamilton, and now they are going to close that office too. I don’t think the trend to do everything over the internet is very useful for migrants.”

Cutbacks are also planned for the Settling In Programme operated by the Ministry of Social Development’s Family and Community Services. “In reducing the resources for migrant support available at local level government also reduces employment outcomes and social outcomes for new migrants in terms of participation in the community.” ---ends--- (250 words)

(Overview and full report: http://www.oag.govt.nz/2013/new-migrants)

Backgrounder on International Migrants Day:
In December 2000 the General Assembly of United Nations proclaimed 18 December as International Migrants Day. It also adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

The Convention is the primary international standard against which national governments should measure their laws to protect migrants’ rights. However, the Convention itself has not yet taken legal effect because of the 20 ratifications required so far only 17 have come into being.

There are some 214 million migrants world-wide. The Bay of Plenty’s population is becoming more diverse too. According to the most recent census data more than 17 per cent of the region's population was born overseas. This is an increase of 2.4 percentage points on the 2006 figures.


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