New role in migrant support

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Waitaki Newcomers Network co-ordinator Christine Dorsey has taken on another role – Waitaki Multicultural Council migrant support co-ordinator.

She fills the vacancy created by Jojan McLeod, who has set up a new business called Immigration Waitaki.

The two women worked alongside each other in Oamaru’s Abacus House, where they often liaised on how best to help people settle in after moving to the district.

They are still in contact frequently, with Mrs Dorsey referring people to Mrs McLeod’s specialist services.

Mrs Dorsey’s roles are “so interlinked”, she said. The Newcomers Network provides resources and social opportunities to recent arrivals from anywhere, whereas the migrant support role focuses on those who have arrived from overseas.

All face adjustments to their new place of residence, but immigrants could have extra issues such as language barriers, being separated from their families for long periods, and not being able to find work in their field of expertise.

Spouses of those who have moved here for work are “a very important part of the settling process”, Mrs Dorsey said. If the spouse was unhappy, there was a strong likelihood the shift would not succeed.

Mrs Dorsey has set up coffee mornings and a parents’ group where new arrivals can meet others in similar circumstances and develop friendships. Many participants have gone on to a wider range of activities with people they were introduced to at these informal gatherings.

She also provides information on the district’s health, education, and local government systems.

The number of people seeking her help is increasing all the time, she said. Her email database contains 350 families and she receives about five inquiries a week from newcomers.

She is delighted to see more local people welcoming new neighbours and referring them to the network.

Mrs McLeod, who left the Netherlands at the age of 21 to travel for a year, liked New Zealand so much that she stayed and married a Kiwi.

She understands what it’s like to shift to the other side of the world and start afresh.

In between shifts at Oamaru Hospital as a district and chemotherapy nurse, she took a year-long course through the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic to earn a Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice.

She works from home on Immigration Waitaki matters.

Most queries so far have been about applying for permanent or long-term work visas and making the transition from visitor to resident.

Mrs McLeod interviews each client to assess the help they need.

Having already relocated across the world, they are “quite capable – they just need a bit of direction”.