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Vital Work Of Ministry For Ethnic Communities Under Threat From Government Cuts

The PSA is alarmed by a proposal to restructure the Ministry for Ethnic Communities coming less than three years after being set up in response to the Christchurch mosque attack.

"The important work of the Ministry in safeguarding and strengthening the wellbeing of ethnic communities in Aotearoa New Zealand will be undermined by this proposal," said Duane Leo National Secretary for the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi.

"The Government promised no cuts to frontline services - every day we are finding out that it was all a fiction. The very Ministry set up to heal the wounds of 15 March and strengthen the bonds between our various communities is pulling back from serving communities around the motu."

The Ministry is proposing to close its offices in Hamilton, New Plymouth, Napier and Dunedin and reduce the number of Engagement and Partnership specialists who support local ethnic communities. They also work to develop relationships between community groups and other government agencies.

It is not clear how many jobs will be lost but the PSA understands that 32 roles are proposed to be disestablished and there are 23 new roles.

"The Government has made a choice. It would rather give $3 billion to landlords, than focus on critical services, like supporting ethnic communities, and building a stronger, more united Aotearoa.

"The Ministry works to connect ethnic groups with each other, Māori and both local and central government functions - these cuts will increase workloads to a ministry that is already under resourced. As we become a more diverse nation why is this ministry not getting the funding it needs?

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"There is much other vital work the Ministry does. For example, increasingly countries we want to trade with and sign Free Trade Agreements, like India, want to know how we are supporting their diaspora in New Zealand. The Ministry works to provide the evidence New Zealand is doing that.

"The Ministry has also played a valuable broker role when issues arise, such as threats to the safety and security of our small business dairy owners.

"Now all this important work could be undone as the Ministry pulls back from regularly engaging with communities as much as it currently does under this proposal.

"This work helps build trust between communities and the Government. There are many communities who struggle to be heard. The Ministry provides a vital bridge for them.

"Now, so soon after the 15 March tragedy, when so much progress is being made, it’s disappointing that this Government does not see that as a priority," said Duane Leo.

Some of the significant cuts announced to date:

voluntary redundancies

considering job cuts

threatens Callaghan Innovation scientists

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