Advancing refugee research
More research is needed on the experiences of refugees in New Zealand, says a leading researcher in the field.
Waikato University Associate Professor Bernard Guerin, co-organiser of New Zealand's first symposium to focus on refugee research, funded by SPEaR, said there was a need to improve the knowledge base about refugee communities.
"Refugee communities are very diverse, from a range of ethnic and language groups and with varying education levels. There cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to refugees in New Zealand. Improving our knowledge of these diverse communities will assist our understanding of them as recent New Zealanders, and also better inform how we can work alongside to assist them to participate in New Zealand society," he said.
Bernard said the symposium, held late last year, definitely helped by bringing together the majority of New Zealand's researchers in the field of refugee research. It also included representatives from refugee communities and provided them with opportunities to participate and develop their research skills. It was co-organised with Unitec and the New Zealand Immigration Service, and supported by funding from the SPEaR Linkages programme. "For the first time, all those people were in the room together for two days and were able to network outside of the usual context of getting resources and service delivery for refugees. This has set the research moving. That alone has made the symposium successful - people met others they had not been able to meet before, though they may have been aware of their work."
"The networking that occurred at the symposium opened up opportunities for mentoring and subcontracting, which will help build capability, especially in building the capacity of refugee communities to research themselves," Bernard said.
The two main presentations were on the Refugee Voices and Strangers in Town research project.