Aoraki becoming more culturally diverse
Migrants discuss issues at the heart of settlingESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Better access to information and services have been identified as two of the major needs for migrants to South Canterbury, according to amigrant community social services report, Settling In Aoraki.
The report, undertaken by the Aoraki Multicultural Council and supported by the Ministry of Social Development, was launched in Timaru yesterday .
In the past five to 10 years South Canterbury's population demographic has changed, through globalisation and growth in dairying, to include newcomer migrants.
In the Timaru District, between 2007 and 2012, 436 immigrants were granted New Zealand citizenship; the majority were from Britain then South Africa, India, the Philippines and Zimbabwe. There were also many overseas workers in the district for seasonal jobs.
Figures from the 2006 census did not accurately reflect the current situation, so focus groups comprising volunteers used school and industry data in the report. They talked with various groups, industry representatives, community groups and individuals throughout Timaru, Mackenzie and Waimate over the past year to find out the problems host communities and newcomers faced.
It found the main issues were no clear point of contact for newcomer migrants to access information, no recognised co-ordination of services, isolation for women at home, lack of English and/or opportunities to meet others, no extended family support and social isolation due to geography and long work hours. Some of the host communities found the influx of migrants challenging, with a need for education about cultural diversity for increased acceptance.
Kate Elsen , of the Aoraki Multicultural Council, said she was excited that at last the silent voice of migrants would be heard in print through the report.
"One in four New Zealanders are born out of New Zealand. It is the beginning of multicultural New Zealand (we're) not bicultural any more," she said.
Ministry Settling-In Canterbury co-ordinator George Clark said New Zealand was becoming one of the most diverse populations in the world.
"We haven't traditionally been geared up for the pressure of a broad community," he said. The report was significant because it lifted everyone's understanding across cultures and could be used as a basis for gaining funding to tackle the issues revealed.
"It is up to the community to decide how to go ahead," Mr Clark said.
The multicultural council is applying for funds through Community Organisation Grants for a part-time migrant support co-ordinator on the strength of the report.
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