Empowerment based approaches to quota refugee resettlement in New Zealand
The study examines four key elements of empowerment; social, economic, political and cultural empowerment and how resettlement programmes in New Zealand can create an enabling environment for refugee empowerment to occur.
Power is dynamic and can be manifest in relationships in a range of ways between individuals, families, communities, nations and organizations. Those who hold power in relationships may have the privilege of coercing those without power to do the things that are outside their will for some kind of benefit. This study examines refugee resettlement from an empowerment based perspective. It critically analyses refugee resettlement in New Zealand using the components of empowerment derived from theories of power by Emerson (1962) and Cartwright (1960), and Longwe’s (1991) framework on empowerment. Refugee resettlement in New Zealand began in the 1940s in the wake of events during and after World War 2. A formal quota was established under the humanitarian programme in 1987 to bring an annual quota of 750 UNHCR mandated refugees for resettlement in New Zealand. This group forms the case study for this research. Previous studies on refugee resettlement have pointed to the fact that after many years of resettlement in a third country, refugees still find themselves in situations where they depend on state welfare benefits (Higgins, 1999; Department of Labour, 2004; Joudi Kadri, 2009). They struggle to acquire the level of English language skills to enhance their integration into New Zealand society. Only about 25 percent gain full time employment after five years of living in the country [Department of Labour, 2004]. The study critically analyses the welfare system, refugees’ socio/economic participation, settlement planning, English language support, employment support, community support, collaboration of support service agencies, and how the provision of these services may be structured to create empowerment for refugees.