Importance of language recognised in Settlement Summit | ELPNZ

Importance of language recognised in Settlement Summit

09 June 2016

"Many speakers recognised that English language is the common thread in how well a migrant settles in New Zealand', says Birgit Grafarend-Watungwa, Operations Manager, English Language Partners New Zealand (ELPNZ).

The recent Settlement Summit in Wellington, organised by MBIE, saw a new kind of collaboration in the sector. It focused on migrants and was titled Collaborating for Outcomes. It brought together like-minded government, community-based organisations and philanthropic funders.

"It was great to see a government-led summit like this," says Birgit. "It brought the major players together. English Language Partners believes that it is important for the sector and government to work closer together.”

The Government's New Zealand Migrant Settlement and Integration Strategy approved by government in July 2014 builds on the NZ Settlement Strategy launched a decade earlier.

The Strategy has five key outcomes: employment, education and training, health and wellbeing, English language, and inclusion. 

Birgit says the summit was an eye opener for some people. "It was interesting that while it was acknowledged that language is important across all the outcomes, many organisations said they didn't think of ELPNZ when they thought of an area like health and wellbeing," says Birgit. "Many people had an 'ah-ha' moment during the Summit.”

Another positive from the summit for ELPNZ was the strong links formed for those working in different regions. The summit included workshops where people engaged with others in the regions they work in. 

"This will have an impact on these organisations at a long term strategic level," says Birgit. 

ELPNZ hopes the Summit will lead to positive changes in the funding of English language provision for migrants on work permits so that the organisation can more effectively support those who hope to stay in New Zealand. Current funding rules prevent non-permanent residents from accessing government funded English language programmes.

"Often work permit holders and their partners expect they will get jobs when they come to New Zealand,” says Birgit. “But they don’t always have the English language skills to get work or be successful in the workplace.”

The overarching outcome for the New Zealand Migrant Settlement and Integration Strategy is 'migrants make New Zealand home, participate fully and contribute to all aspects of New Zealand life.' English Language Partners NZ definitely has a huge part to play in all areas of successful migrant settlement in New Zealand.

For more information about the Settlement Summit, Collaborating for Outcomes, 7-8 April 2016, please subscribe to Settlement ActionNZ by sending an e-mail to settlement.information@mbie.govt.nz

Photo (above): Nicola Sutton, CEO, English Language Partners NZ

Photo (right): Birgit Grafarend-Watungwa, Operations Manager, English Language Partners New Zealand