Discussion: Eighth Annual Regional Refugee Forum
(caption for the above picture: Ahmed Tani, chairperson of Canterbury Refugee Resettlement and Resource Centre, addressing the gathering at the Forum)
The Regional Refugee Forum was held on March 20, themed “Improving Refugee Health through Literacy, Advocacy & Outreach”. This is an annual event organised by the Canterbury Refugee Resettlement and Resource Centre (CRRRC), as a platform for NGO representatives, communities, service providers, and stakeholders in the refugee sector to share their experiences and vision to promote refugee issues in the Canterbury region.
The Forum brought over 60 active participants together who were representatives of non-governmental organisations, government officials, district and health boards, the city council, researchers, academia and the communities.
Among those who addressed the Forum was keynote speaker Dr Sandy Macleod, an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Canterbury. Dr Macleod covered the conditions in the Australian Refugee detention centres in Nauru and on Christmas and Manus Islands. He reported the widespread opposition in the health care community to the Government’s policies. He told the Forum that clinicians are officially excluded from making any public comment in any public forum about conditions in the detention centres. He said some have tried to work within the system to improve conditions in the roles they are prescribed, but quickly find they are so constrained that disillusionment is very high. He told the Forum the principle of detainment is wrong, saying: “It is an abuse of people who have already endured a great deal of hardship, in their countries of origin and on their journey in …..to then lock them up indefinitely and subject them to further imprisonment, beatings, sexual abuse.”
Another speaker, Vida Hazarati, the bilingual counsellor noted that if parents can teach the children to respect the changes that the parents go through – we have our culture at home, but outside the home we are part of New Zealand. She shared that one learns strength through diversity.
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- by Canterbury Refugee Resettlement and Resource Centre, Christchurch