Invercargill refugee settlement detailed by Immigration NZ

Immigration New Zealand national manager of refugee and protection Andrew Lockhart and Immigration New Zealand refugee ...
KAVINDA HERATH/FAIRFAX NZ

Immigration New Zealand national manager of refugee and protection Andrew Lockhart and Immigration New Zealand refugee resettlement coordinator Sarah Ward at the Civic Theatre on Wednesday.

Invercargill is expected to get about 100 refugees per year and the families could be in the south as early as November.

Immigration New Zealand representatives were in Invercargill on Wednesday to talk about how refugees would be settled.

Resettlement coordinator Sarah Ward said refugees could be welcomed as early as November or December, but there was no set date. 

READ MORE: Invercargill to be new refugee settlement

Wellington took 250 refugees each year, she said. 

Ward said less than 100 refugees for per year would be more realistic for Invercargill, which could equate to three to four families every two months.  

"It might be a slow trickle if it takes time to build services up." 

When refugees arrived, the first thing they wanted was a job, she said. They would also want to get their children in to schools. 

Invercargill's schools would be large enough and language support resources would be provided in classrooms, she said. 

Ward said while in Invercargill, Immigration NZ representatives were "getting a feel" for the services in the city. 

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Health services, NZ Police, the Ministry of Social Development's social services and Work and Income will play a role in the settlement.

Refugees would be allocated pre-existing housing, she said. 

"It could be private, or it could be social housing." 

The largest ethnic groups Immigration New Zealand were targeting were Burmese, Afghans out of Pakistan, Syrian and Columbian. 

Refugees will undertake a six-week settlement programme at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre before moving to Invercargill.

"The most important thing is going to be the community's welcome," Ward said. 

"Psychologically, there's nothing like being welcomed in to a community. People are looking for a home. That willingness to be welcomed in to a new home, you can't beat it." 

Immigration New Zealand national manager of refugee and protection Andrew Lockhart said during the next year, it would look to build up Invercargill services' human resources to cope with the settlement. 

"We will be filling those gaps as we go."

Any concerns about Invercargill services' capability would be addressed in Wellington, Lockhart said. 

"It may be a case of moving that funding around." 

Lockhart said he had no concerns about housing capability, or the imminent sale of Invercargill's state houses. 

Immigration New Zealand provided new refugees furniture for their homes.

Enough entry-level jobs and jobs for up-skilling refugees would be needed, he said. 

"I feel that any employer will be willing to take on someone with the right skills." 

Immigration New Zealand would be in continuous consultation with the Invercargill City Council and Southland District Council, he said. 

In the next few weeks the cost to the Government for Invercargill refugee settlement would become known, he said.  

 - Stuff

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