What are some of the new policy developments?
Under the umbrella of the Connecting Diverse Communities project, progress has been made to:
- increase and improve pre-arrival information about living in New Zealand to migrants and potential migrants, including information about the rights and responsibilities of migrants. The Department of Labour has developed written material given to temporary and permanent migrants about living and working in New Zealand. The material focuses on the availability of support from and access to mainstream government services, and the rights and responsibilities associated with being a New Zealand resident. The Department of Labour is also piloting the running of seminars in a number of Pacific countries, for migrants to learn about issues such as housing and employment before they arrive in New Zealand.
- extend the Ethnic Perspectives in Policy (EPP) and Intercultural Awareness and Communication (IAC) training programmes across the broad public sector to improve communication between public sector employees and ethnic communities. The Office of Ethnic Affairs currently runs these two programmes aiming to improve information flows between immigrant communities and government, and improve service delivery. This training is being extended to cover more agencies over the next financial year.
- develop programmes that increase understanding of migrant and refugees about heritage places and conservation values in New Zealand. The Department of Conservation is currently working in partnership with the Chinese Conservation Education Trust to hold regular activities for Chinese immigrants, educating them about New Zealand conservation and heritage values. The Department of Conservation is looking to expand this initiative to include other communities around the country.
Read more about the Chinese Conservation Education Trust
- achieve endorsement on a draft Statement on Religious Diversity by the National Interfaith Forum in February 2007 as a basis for ongoing public discussion. The statement was published in May 2007 by the Human Rights Commission and Victoria University in a booklet titled Religious Diversity in New Zealand.
- revise the criteria for the Commemorating Waitangi Day Fund so that more events and educational activities which involve immigrant communities learning about the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi can be funded. Immigrants, particularly recent immigrants, often want to learn more about the Treaty and Maori culture in general, in order to get a fuller understanding of New Zealand and what it means to be a New Zealander.