Plan to stress need for migrant support

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 12:11 12/12/2013

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Venture Southland has put together a plan that it says will show Immigration New Zealand the importance of supporting migrants in Southland.

The alternative settlement support report was drafted by Venture Southland after Immigration proposed a national restructuring that would see a fulltime, Southland-based settlement co- ordinator replaced with a national, basic face- to- face settlement information service, eight retention specialists throughout the country, phone and email support.

The change is planned for July next year.

Venture Southland enterprise and strategic projects group manager Steve Canny said the alternative regional partnership model and correlated data would be sent to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment this week.

Immigration needed to recognise the challenge of one person covering such a large geographical area as Southland along with other parts of the country.

The latest census data shows Southland's Asian population has grown, particularly within the Filipino community, where the population grew from 162 in 2006 to 885 in 2013.

Other large increases were those who identified as Chinese and Indian with 363 in 2006 to 633 in 2013 and 306 to 624 respectively.

Mr Canny had analysed census data from 2006 and 2013, which showed a 20 per cent increase in newcomers to Southland and 46.37 per cent in Invercargill.

Given the Government focus was the development of export-led economic recovery, the successful settlement of migrants was critical to the future development of Southland, Mr Canny said.

The proposed restructuring was an "urban centric" model that did not consider the resources required to deliver region wide services to meet the needs of employers, farming and other primary sector businesses, he said.

Venture Southland wanted Immigration New Zealand to consider a successful service delivery model such as a Regional Partnership Programme.

It would involve having a fulltime person in the region to deal with immediate enquires and referrals at a higher level than what had been proposed. That person would have a solid connection with one of Immigration's eight proposed retention specialists, he said.

The alternative service model would use existing local networks and resources, eliminate replication of services, make it easier for employers and migrants to access meaningful levels of service through existing agencies, leverage off existing business relationships and interactions and institutional knowledge and reduce service delivery costs.

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Immigration representatives had not yet confirmed when they would come to Southland, he said.

- The Southland Times

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