Our advocacy work is driven by priorities identified by our community members, and takes place at both individual and governmental levels. At an individual/community level our team members provide support for resettled community members in need of one-to-one advocacy. At a governmental level, we draw upon our vast networks, and collaborate with others, to influence resettlement policy and practice. Some examples of our advocacy work include: assisting people with Work and Income challenges; meeting with schools when students are having challenges; a project to ensure students with refugee background are given voice and equality in education; a photographic project showing the participation and contribution of people of refugee background in order to change the common narrative surrounding former refugees. We also hold a World Refugee Day celebration of the cultures and contributions of our member communities.
In 2016, ChangeMakers and the Human Rights team of the Wellington Community Justice Project launched a campaign to call on the government to provide the same level of support to convention refugees as afforded to those who come into the country under the UNHCR quota system. The campaign also aimed to raise awareness around the inequities in the system, and how we are not meeting the basic fundamental human rights for convention refugees.
Since June 2013 we participated in the campaign to double New Zealand’s refugee quota to 1500 places. With the election of Jacinda Ardern’s new government we now have a government committed to making this first increase since 1987 a reality. The refugee quota will grow to 1500 by July 2020!
The campaign aimed to have refugee-background students recognised as an equity group in government policy and at universities and polytechnics. This meant additional study support and resources to help reduce barriers to those students enrolling and completing tertiary qualifications.