Waitemata District Health Board helping refugees

The Waitemata DHB has teamed up with the Auckland Regional Health Network (ARRHN) to run a Refugee Health Forum.

The programme is run by the ARRHN which provides a range of Refugee Health Services to the Auckland region.

Gautam Raj Singh the project manager of Asian, Migrant and Refugee Health gain planning, funding and outcomes unit said the programme is about strengthening primary health professional’s awareness and response to former refugee’s health needs.

Mr Singh said that “three Refugee health forums are organised annually and aim to upskill and support primary health care providers who engage with Asian, Middle Eastern and African communities from former refugee backgrounds”.

The forums don’t just cover general health, and have covered range of topics.

Mr Singh said, “topics have ranged from children’s health and wellbeing, youth health, men’s health, women’s health, youth mental health; adult disability services for former refugees, oral health after resettlement and family violence”.

If any refugees attend the forum, it is not the first time that would have encountered New Zealand’s health and other services.

Refugees who arrive in New Zealand under the Refugee Quote Programme spend their first 6 weeks at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre (MRRC). The 6-week programme aims to build basic social and coping skills required for refugees’ new lives in New Zealand and provide information on work and expectations of employment. Some other key areas the programme focuses on include:

  • Settlement planning, including orientation to working and living in New Zealand and an employment assessment for working age refugees
  • Education, including English language. Refugee children are also prepared for their introduction into the New Zealand classroom and national curriculum, and
  • Health and mental assessments, initial treatment and health promotion.

As of 2016 New Zealand has welcomed 7195 refugees, all of whom have been resettled in 6 regions; Auckland, Waikato, Manawatu, Wellington, Nelson and Dunedin.

So far, the forums have had a good response.

“Feedback from participants have always been very positive and encouraging”, Mr Singh said.

The next Refugee Health Forum will be held at 6pm on June 8 at Kelston Community Centre, Sunnyvale.

Representatives from the Auckland Refugee Health Service, Auckland Refugee Community Coalition, and the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre were all contacted for comment


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