Report raps Government on immigration points

Lyn Provost3The Government is falling short of implementing policies relating to immigration, settlement and support and has in fact missed the opportunity of being more effective and achieving good governance through better coordination.

That was the view of Controller & Auditor General Lyn Provost, whose report on ‘Immigration New Zealand: Supporting New Migrants to Settle and Work,’ released on November 18, 2013, is bound to become a subject of public debate.

The Auditor-General found a number of serious shortcomings in the implementation of the settlement strategy, a lack of cooperation between government agencies, particularly Immigration New Zealand (INZ) and other bodies, inadequate use of existing resources, insufficient monitoring, and poor evaluation and monitoring frameworks.

Narrow interpretation

The Report said that INZ had narrowly interpreted its role in coordinating the governance of settlement support throughout government.

“This has been a missed opportunity to use the governance structures put in place to make more progress towards some of the specified objectives for the Settlement Strategy. The governance arrangements have not worked as intended and INZ has not used them as fully as it could have to provide clear governance and leadership.”

According to the Auditor-General, the Settlement Strategy and regional strategies were put in place to help coordinate settlement services throughout government agencies for new migrants.

Since 2009, priorities have changed to achieve settlement and achieving better outcomes for refugees. As a consequence, progress on the national settlement strategy has not been the main focus, the Report said.

“This has affected delivering desired outcomes for new skilled migrants. During our audit, INZ was considering options for coordinating governance and leadership throughout government to help make strategic governance work for new migrants more effective,” the Report said.

Inadequate coordination

During the audit process, the office of the Auditor General learnt from the Settlement Support staff that sharing information about settlement activities and matters was valuable. However, the national and regional settlement structure has not been put into effect and sustained to achieve the intended results over time. The auditors found that organisations working with INZ on settlement support shared this view.

“The purpose of the Settlement Strategy and supporting regional strategies in coordinating settlement support activities has been unclear to those involved. There are also strong indications of some duplication of settlement services and resourcing. Better information about settlement support resourcing is needed to effectively and efficiently use and co-ordinate settlement support resources,” the Report said.

Wakeup call

Wellington based New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils Inc President Tayo Agunlejika described the Report as a ‘wakeup call to the Government.’

“We welcome the Auditor General’s Report and call on the Government to implement the recommendations within the time frames proposed. We are particularly pleased that the needs of secondary skilled workers (family of the principal applicant) and workers on temporary permits are recognised,” he said.

Sharpening focus

He said that the Report had rightly suggested to the Government to improve its focus on its leadership role in implementing the Settlement Strategy and coordinating contributions from various government agencies.

“The Government’s Settlement Strategy and the Auckland and Wellington Regional Strategies were introduced some years ago with a lot of fanfare, but commitment to them is shown to have lagged over the years. There is a need for renewed effort with an updated strategy and clear leadership,” Mr Agunlejika said.

“Our constituent Multicultural Councils have been concerned at the reduction in settlement support services at the local level. These include cutbacks to the ‘Settling In’ Programme operated by the Family and Community Services of the Social Development Ministry and the planned changes to local settlement support services provided by INZ. These tend to reduce the resources available to local communities to support not just employment outcomes but also social outcomes for new migrants in terms of participation in the community,” he added.

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