Action Plan To Settle Migrants Targets Young Refugees

Action plan to settle migrants targets young refugees

Thursday February 01, 2007
By Simon Collins
The New Zealand Herald

A youth worker to work with young refugees is being placed into Auckland's most multicultural suburbs as part of a regional “settlement strategy” launched last night.

The new position, Government-funded but likely to be contracted out to a community group, will be based in the Mt Roskill, Mt Albert and Avondale areas including McGehan Close in Owairaka, labelled by National Party leader John Key this week as a street of “helplessness” and in terror of youth gangs.

Ministry of Social Development community relations manager Ann Dysart said the need for the job had been identified by a series of forums with young refugees in the area from Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and other countries.

“We want the young people to help us identify what they want to do,” she said.

“We know there are issues around health, legal issues, career planning, employment, training, those sorts of things. There are also issues around access to sport and recreation.”

Immigration Minister David Cunliffe joined Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett, all the regional mayors and other dignitaries to launch 48 new initiatives in an “action plan” to help migrants and refugees to settle in Auckland successfully.

Last year's Census showed that 40.4 per cent of the region's people were born overseas, compared with 19.9 per cent in the rest of the country.

The plan says immigrants are “an important factor in supporting Auckland's ability to attract globally competitive firms, achieve higher productivity and increase business investment, skill levels and innovation”.

It says most skilled migrants get jobs and “generally settle well”.

But jobseekers “are often not aware that New Zealand qualification and professional bodies might not recognise their overseas qualifications and employers are often unwilling to recognise their experience and skills”.

The plan suggests that mentors familiar with local business could help migrants to gain local jobs and succeed in them.

The Auckland Regional Migrant Services Trust already supports a mentoring scheme for engineers and is seeking mentors for refugee women.

It has applied to the ASB Trust and another funder for a similar scheme for highly qualified refugees.

The plan also suggests that central and local governments could give migrants their first jobs and then help them into the private sector through limited-period contracts.

Ms Dysart said the Wellington City Council had established an internship programme for refugees and migrants, and the idea was being discussed with the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.