by Jan Logie
Out of all the people that come to our shores, refugees and asylum seekers are the most vulnerable. They often carry many scars- some visible, some less visible. They often have seen and experienced horrific conditions. So when they arrive, having willingly accepted them, New Zealand has an obligation to provide services and the care to deal with their unique predicament.
The recent cuts and contracting out of services provided to new refugees arriving in New Zealand is highly concerning. The Government is cutting staff who are trained and experienced in dealing with the problems refugees have.
Services helping with resettlement, in the first few weeks, are vital to the success of long-term resettlement. If issues such as war trauma, post traumatic stress disorder due to torture and rehabilitation are done poorly, it can result in affected people being unable to function properly in a new society. This flows through to education, social and employment prospects.
The National Government has shown the welfare and resettling refugees is second only to cost cutting. No consultation was undertaken about the cuts. Staff were told their jobs were going via a PowerPoint presentation.
Refugees come to New Zealand wanting to be active members of the community. They need help in the crucial resettlement period to ensure they can become functioning, contributing and productive members of society. The National Government might think they are saving costs, but really it’s a case of “penny wise, pound foolish”.