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Sarah Dowie MP welcomes the recent Immigration New Zealand decision to include Invercargill as a settlement location for refugees.

Invercargill will become one of seven settlement locations in New Zealand for the 1000 refugees that will make New Zealand their home this year.

The decision to choose Invercargill was made by the New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy Senior Officials’ Group - made up of representatives from Immigration New Zealand (INZ), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development, Office of Ethnic Communities and Department of Internal Affairs.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Invercargill to welcome with open arms some of the world’s most displaced people to our wonderful city and region. Southlanders are notoriously generous and welcoming people and I look forward to seeing the diversity of Invercargill increase,” Ms Dowie says.

“Invercargill ticks all the boxes for becoming a resettlement location. We have consistently low unemployment and a standard of living which is second to none including excellent support services for our most vulnerable.

“I am aware of concerns expressed by the Mayor about the lack of consultation from Immigration NZ but am advised that discussions were held with both the Mayor and Venture Southland, during which there was support for the decision.

“I am confused by the Mayor’s reservations about Invercargill becoming a settlement location for refugees, notwithstanding his active support for doubling the refugee quota in the media and his public support of the SORD’s project of attracting 10,000 more people to Southland. His comments over the last few years regarding population growth seem contradictory and the public would benefit from clear and consistent messaging.

“We should be welcoming this opportunity to provide a new home and community to refugees from various backgrounds and I encourage the leaders of our City to look to Dunedin for support on how to do so.

“In March, I visited the Wild Things Kotuku Multi-Ethnic Play group in Dunedin with Hon Michael Woodhouse, which provides early child education to some of the children of refugee families.  While there I spoke to Syrian refugees who are extremely grateful and were integrating into the community well.”

The Red Cross is the primary provider of refugee resettlement programmes in New Zealand.  People who arrive in New Zealand spend six weeks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre before being resettled into the community where they are supported by Red Cross through the Pathways to Settlement programme for up to 12 months.  Red Cross also provides an employment programme to help people from refugee backgrounds plan their employment, training and career goals and ultimately find work in New Zealand. Finding employment is a key part of the resettlement process, helping people feel empowered and more involved in their new community.

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