Migrant support job losses concern MPs

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 13:05 06/06/2014

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News of job cuts and changes to migrant and refugee support services in Nelson has been met with concern and anger by local MPs.

Yesterday, the Nelson Mail reported that Nelson Tasman Settlement Support's community liaison adviser, Sonny Alesana, will lose his job, as has Settling In relationship manager Claire Nichols. Red Cross Refugee Services Nelson office will also experience a shake-up and changes in roles, including one redundancy.

Nelson MP Nick Smith said he planned to speak with ministers from Social Development, Immigration and the Office of Ethnic Affairs on the issue. He said his biggest concern was refugees.

"The refugees being placed in Nelson are quite vulnerable and they need good support services to enable them to properly settle. These changes in services are of concern." He said he had historical concerns of migrant support services in Nelson being "quite fragmented" and hoped there would be "a continuity of service".

Nelson-based Labour list MP Maryan Street said both Alesana and Nicols were "vital to the security and social stability of the Nelson region". She said plans to replace the Settlement Support services with phone and email support was "mindless," especially if new migrants could not speak English.

Victory Community Centre nurse Penny Molnar said the job losses were disappointing and there was a fear that the community and voluntary sector would be further stretched to make up for them.

She said Nelson was renowned for its development services.

"Those new migrants, both through refugee services and others have had a really good start to their new beginnings and that is now in jeopardy."

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- The Nelson Mail

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