The Ashburton District Council has welcomed today's announcement that Safer Ashburton will provide support services for refugee settlement in the Ashburton District.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has appointed Safer Ashburton to support refugees in the initial stages of resettlement in the Ashburton District and to ensure families are linked to vital services.
Ashburton District Mayor Neil Brown says Safer Ashburton is a well-established local provider and the Council will be doing what it can to assist Safer Ashburton in the settlement process.
"We look forward to working with Safer Ashburton in helping our new residents to settle in and become valuable members of our community," he said. "Coming to a new place that is very different from the world you've known must be a difficult process for families, but with the support of Safer Ashburton, together with the Council and the Ministry, we hope it will be as smooth as possible."
Today's announcement follows a Government decision in February to increase the annual refugee quota to 1,500 people from 2020.
New settlement locations were announced as part of this decision, with Ashburton, Blenheim, Levin, Masterton, Timaru and Whanganui becoming the latest areas to join the list. Already established locations are Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington region, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Invercargill.
The New Zealand Red Cross has been appointed to provide support services in Blenheim, Levin and Masteron (alongside Connecting Communities Wairarapa), while Presbyterian Support South Canterbury will provide services in Timaru.
National Manager Refugee and Migrant Support at MBIE, Andrew Lockhart said, "This is a unique opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of refugees who are new to the country and we are confident New Zealand Red Cross, Presbyterian Support South Canterbury and Safer Ashburton will successfully support refugees to actively participate in their new communities."
Mayor Brown added that the Ashburton District is one of several areas to be piloting the Welcoming Communities programme which is designed to help local councils and their communities to become even more welcoming of newcomers.
"Having this programme in place certainly puts our community in a positive place to help our new residents make connections and feel supported."
Safer Ashburton's refugee settlement support contract is from February 2020 until 30 June 2022.