General Manager's Update - Febuary 2017

Kung hei fat choi! Xin Nian Hao! Sen-nin haow! Happy New Year!

In September last year I outlined the work that the Office of Ethnic Communities was doing to develop its Operating Model. Flourishing Diversity; Thriving New Zealand is the vision for the Office of Ethnic Communities and drives our Operating Model. This is the strategic framework for what we do, why we do it, and how we go about our work. You can check it out on our website.

A more authoritative Office of Ethnic Communities

Since September the Office of Ethnic Communities has been going through an exercise to see how well we are arranged to be able to deliver on our vision, outcomes and 4 focus areas. As a result of this we have introduced a new structure for the Office of Ethnic Communities, which creates 3 teams:

  • Community Engagement
  • Planning, Systems and Services
  • Policy & Research

These three teams are designed to make sure that the Office becomes a more authoritative advisor to government on ethnic diversity in New Zealand. We want to engage with ethnic communities throughout New Zealand to understand the issues facing them – and to make sure that these issues inform our advice to government and are taken into account by other government agencies. We want to provide the best possible interpretation and translation services so that people can connect with the government and the services they need. We will distribute grant funding to ethnic communities to enable them to carry out initiatives that build social cohesion in New Zealand. We look forward to a future in which we can enter into partnerships with ethnic communities to support them, and to ensure that they are able to connect with their local communities and with wider New Zealand.

Community Engagement:

Engaging with ethnic communities is at the heart of what the Office for Ethnic Communities does. The Community Engagement Team has staff based in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and is led by Tayyaba Khan. Tayyaba has recently joined the Office of Ethnic Communities from her role as the Chief Executive of ChangeMakers Refugee Forum in Wellington – and she will now be based in our Auckland Office.

The Community Engagement Team will be engaging with ethnic communities throughout the country, to understand the issues facing ethnic communities, and ensuring that those issues inform the advice that OEC gives to government.

Planning, Systems and Services:

Our Planning, Systems and Services Team has a number of key responsibilities. They will ensure that the Office of Ethnic Communities runs smoothly as an integral part of the Department of Internal Affairs. More importantly however they will be responsible for the services that the Office provides including the delivery of Language Line, and also the Ethnic Communities Development Fund.

We recently celebrated the 500,000th call to Language Line – which provides an important service to enable those New Zealanders who do not have English as their first language to connect with government and the services they need. The Ethnic Communities Development Fund recently completed its funding round for 2016 – with $520,000 allocated in grants to ethnic communities for social cohesion initiatives.

The Planning, Systems and Services Team is led by Natasha Narayan, who has joined the Office from within the Department of Internal Affairs where she held the role of Manager Planning and Development - Policy.

Policy & Research:

Our Policy and Research Team gives effect to our ambition to be an authoritative advisor to government on issues of ethnic diversity. The Policy and Research Team are interested to understand how easily ethnic communities can participate in employment, education and health services – which are all vital to how ethnic people can develop a sense of belonging in New Zealand.

Our task in policy and research is to gather the best possible information on our ethnic communities, their experiences and perceptions, and to make sure that this information and these perspectives influence the policy and services provided by other government agencies.

The Policy and Research Team is currently led by Caroline Bridgland. We are recruiting a permanent Manager for this team.

Maarten Quivooy