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National Civil Defence Emergency Plan Must address diversity

24 June 2014

National Civil Defence Emergency Plan needs to recognise diversity

The Government’s proposed new national civil emergency management plan needs to better recognise and provide for the diversity of New Zealand communities, says Multicultural New Zealand.

There is little recognition in the current draft plan of the diversity of New Zealand communities. As we pointed out in a policy document released earlier this year “The Canterbury earthquakes and a biodiversity alert in Auckland in 2012 highlighted the need for public agencies to be prepared to liaise with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, in their own languages, in times of civil emergency and where important public messages need to be relayed to the whole community.”

“A Christchurch interagency group, the Community Languages Information Network Group (CLING), drew up best practice guidelines for civil emergency preparedness, and the Christchurch Migrant Centre likewise produced a report on lessons learnt from the earthquakes. Both reports emphasise the need for public agencies to be better prepared to assist migrant and refugee communities in civil emergencies through developing relationships with them beforehand and having basic information available in their languages.”

In our policy document, we called for public agencies involved in dealing with civil emergencies to be properly prepared to communicate with and assist culturally and linguistically diverse communities, through developing and maintaining relationships and having basic information available in a range of community languages.

In a submission to the Ministry of Civil Defence on the draft plan, we seek greater recognition of the need to have material available in different languages and to involve the Office of Ethnic Affairs and the Ministry of Pacific Affairs as well as Te Puni Kokiri in communicating with and assisting culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

After the experience of the Christchurch earthquakes, it is a serious oversight not to address these issues specifically and prominently in the plan.

ENDS

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