Asian Mental Health Recovery Follow-up to the Asian Report

Health and Disability Commissioner

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Health and Disability Commissioner

Charged with promoting and protecting the rights of health and disability consumers, as set out in the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights, the Commissioner has a number of ongoing and planned activities that relate to Asian peoples and their mental health concerns:

  • Complainants and providers are now involved in the complaints resolution process, where improved ethnicity data will hopefully advance services for Asian peoples

  • Provision of culturally appropriate services is facilitated by giving the Commissioner and advocacy staff a folder of material aimed at improving understanding of major refugee groups; advocacy services employ advocates from a range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and interpreters are used when appropriate

  • Translations are now available of key documents; the Code and advocacy service brochures are available in Cantonese and Korean from the Commissioner’s web site ( Zealand) and an article on the Code has been translated into Cantonese

  • Ongoing discussion is occurring with Auckland City Council about communication of the Commissioner’s work to the Chinese community and presentations are given by the Commissioner to community groups on request.

Housing New Zealand Corporation

Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC) was established to deliver housing assistance to those in greatest need and to be the principal advisor to Government on housing and housing policy. HNZC assistance was important to the recent establishment of the Auckland Regional Migrant Resource Centre, and is also involved in two key initiatives that impact on Asian peoples:

  • the Telephone Interpreter Service, co-ordinated by the Office of Ethnic Affairs, which is available for HNZC clients

  • providing accommodation for Shakti Asian Women’s Refuge and Support Service in Auckland.

HNZC will support proposals for additional Asian Women’s Refuges in Wellington and Christchurch during the 2003/04 year.

Human Rights Commission

The Human Rights Commission has a range of activities which contribute to the mental wellbeing of Asian peoples in New Zealand. These include:

  • Tu Tikanga – Rights Now, a training-for-trainers project to provide the opportunity for people with disabilities to become human rights trainers and pass on their knowledge and skills to other people with disabilities. Key alliances for this project include IHC and People First, New ZealandCCS and the Like Minds Like Mine Project to Counter Stigma and Discrimination Associated with Mental Illness

  • Taku Manawa – My Human Rights is an educational programme, based on the principles of empowerment and uses a ‘train-the-trainer’ model. The focus of the programme is on exploring ways in which people can take personal and local action to address unlawful discrimination and, in doing so, realise their rights

  • The School Community – A Racial Harassment Free Zone. This resource is designed to help schools put in place a programme on racial harassment, explaining why it is not acceptable and what people can do if they believe they are racially harassed

  • Fact sheets on Racial Harassment, and on the areas in which discrimination (including discrimination on the basis of disability) is prohibited

  • The provision of interpreters, where necessary, for non-English speakers wishing to laya complaint under the Human Rights Act, and in any subsequent mediation

  • National Plan of Action - discussion papers on health, housing, and employment (and others) will, where relevant, include reference to mental health issues and ethnic groups' concerns

  • Part 1A of the Human Rights Act which allows the Commission to question the way in which community care is delivered, and to question district plans which preclude housing schemes for people with mental illness.

Ministry of Education

In regards to Asian issues, many of the Ministry of Education’s initiatives relate to permanent residents, foreign fee-paying students and New Zealand citizens of Asian ethnicity. Existing initiatives include:

  • Funding is provided for ESOL programmes, which build on a student’s existing language skills and provide a bridge enabling students to participate in the mainstream. NESB (Non-English Speaking Background) advisors are also funded around the country. ESOL teachers have knowledge of additional learning needs and protocols are in place for referrals to specialist agencies eg, disability services

  • The Ministry completed a survey of the extent, character and quality of English language provision for international students in late 2002. A resource English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL): Effective Provision for International Students has also recently been published

  • The Government, through the Ministry of Education, published its Export Education Strategy in 2001. Its vision is for ‘sustainable, high quality international education and support services, thereby producing a range of economic, educational and cultural benefits for New Zealand’

  • Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students. This mandatory code for education providers was introduced in 2002 (www.minedu.govt.New Zealand/goto/international) and is aimed at improving the wellbeing and pastoral care of all international students in New Zealand. The Code is available in a number of Asian languages

  • Professional Development. Since 2002, the Ministry has funded a programme for school principals, international managers and Boards of Trustees members to assist schools to develop effective and appropriate policies and programmes for international students. The Ministry has also sponsored research into professional development needs for tertiary international education provision. Ongoing professional development will be supported by the new ‘export education development fund’

  • Cross-Cultural Communication. The Export Education Strategy includes a number of initiatives to assist teaching and non-teaching staff working with international students. A core resource for the further development of cross-cultural communication skills is provided in video and CD format, developed by the Wellington College of Education

  • Cultural Awareness. A number of international exchange programmes are available to teachers and students. A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed in December of 2002 with education officials in China, whereby a Chinese language advisor is provided to help guide New Zealand teachers of Chinese in the school curriculum, scholarships for short-term training for New Zealand Chinese language teachers, and up to 10 positions for New Zealand students to study in China on the Chinese Ministry of Education Scholarship Programme

  • The Special Education Group within the Ministry currently provides support services for students and schools following traumatic incidents.

Initiatives planned for the future include:

  • A professional development study programme will be established in China for New Zealand teachers to learn about Chinese culture, the Chinese education system, learning styles, and pedagogy. The first course (1-2 weeks) is planned for 2004

  • The Special Education Group has proposed to implement joint sector services for refugee and migrant students and families in the Auckland area, focusing on those with high and complex needs. This project derives from the joint vision of the Ministry of Education, Auckland District Health Board and the Department of Child, Youth and Family. A joint case management ‘one stop shop’ approach to therapeutic intervention will be applied.

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