“We need long term solutions and dialogue with the people”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has pledged to end discrimination and ensure that all New Zealanders are given equal chance to progress in their life and career and increase representation of people from ethnic minorities on government boards and agencies.
She also promised that her government will promote the concept of ‘true diversity.’
Inaugurating the ‘Safer Ethnic Communities Ministerial Forum’ at the AUT South Campus in Manukau on Saturday, May 26, 2018, she said that ending all forms of discrimination, family violence and family harm in our homes and bullying in our schools and work places are being addressed as immediate issues of attention.
“I am also committed to ending child poverty and ensuring that all our children have equal opportunity to education, training and employment,” she said.
The Greatest Asset
Paying tributes to ethnic communities, she said, “Diversity is our greatest asset.”
“We are celebrated globally for promoting multiculturalism and for fostering peace, harmony and tolerance. We live in a country of peace and tolerance,” she said.
However, Ms Arden warned against complacency, saying that ‘there is a lot of work to do.’
“I am aware that our ethnic communities continue to face challenges and problems. I want to ensure that ‘Inclusion’ is a part of our government policies and programmes. We love and respect our ethnic communities,” she said.
The Forum was hosted by Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa in conjunction with the Office of Ethnic Communities, New Zealand Police and Justice Ministry.
Among the others who attended the day-long event were Justice Minister Andrew Little, Police Minister Stuart Nash, Undersecretaries Michael Wood (Ethnic Communities), Heather Logie (Justice), Labour List MPs Raymond Huo and Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Otara/Papatoetoe Local Board Member and former Labour MP Dr Ashraf Choudhary, Police Commissioner Mike Bush, Deputy Police Commissioner and Deputy Chief Executive (Maori, Pacific & Ethnic Services) Wallace Haumaha, Internal Affairs Chief Executive Colin Macdonald, government officials, community leaders and community volunteers.
Meeting for Significance
Ms Arden said that the gathering of ‘so many important people’ indicated the seriousness with which the government was engaging with people.
“We must work together and get rid of all forms of discrimination and violence. We also need to revisit our Criminal Justice System. We need to have such conversations on an ongoing basis. New Zealanders want change and we are determined to bring about that change so that all of us will progress as an inclusive Nation,” she said.
Ms Salesa said that the demography of New Zealand was changing rapidly and hence governments must be well prepared to respond to the challenges.
“The population of ethnic communities is rising rapidly and according to estimates, they will account for more than 22% of the population by 2038. We need to prepare ourselves for the changes coming over the years,” she said.
Ms Salesa said that as well as social inclusion, it is important to make our homes, offices and public places safer.
Criminal Justice Reform
Justice Minister Andrew Little said that it was time to consider changes to the justice system.
“Are long-term sentences and punitive measures really working? Statistics tell us that 37% of people in prisons have mental issues, 47% have some kind of addition problem and more than 77% are themselves victims of crime. And yet, we have done nothing to find solutions to these,” he said.
Mr Little said that his Ministry was working with relevant ministries, relevant agencies and the public to find solutions to the long-neglected drivers of crime.
“We will be conducting a ‘Criminal Justice Forum’ in August this year,” he said but did not elaborate.
The Forum also listened to two panels discussion ‘Small Business Crime Prevention’ and ‘Partnership between the New Zealand Police and Communities.’
Additional Reading: 1. ‘People discuss solutions to crime and prejudice’ under Homelink and 2.
Our Leader, ‘Social Inclusion should be more pronounced’ under Viewlink.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with (from left) Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio, Labour MP Raymond Huo, his Executive Assistant Tracy Wang, Ethnic Communities Under-Secretary Michael Wood, Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa, Police Minister Stuart Nash and Justice Minister Andrew Little at the Forum.