Refugees Connect to NZ and home on Refugee Day

Dancing for joy at Nelson Refugee Connect Graduation
Dancing for joy at Nelson Graduation

Refugees around New Zealand are gaining internet skills* and connections to help them settle in, and communicate with scattered family and friends around the world. With World Refugee Day on 20th June, here’s an update on 20/20’s Refugee Connect.

133 families will Connect

Over 100 refugees have already graduated this year from the 20/20 Trust’s Refugee Connect programme, with graduate families expected to total 133 by the end of June, 3 over target. Refugee Connect is active in the 6 main refugee centres: Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Nelson and Dunedin.

Uses elements of Computers in Homes

The 20/20 Trust provides refurbished computers, training materials and internet access to 130 refugee background families nationally per year, funded by the Ministry of Education. The programme is similar to our mainstream Computers in Homes**, tailored to their needs. The Ministry provides multi-lingual trainers, family liaison and technical support to the families.

Highly appreciated

Graduates at Auckland Refugee Programme (Computers in Homes) Graduation
Graduates at Auckland Graduation. 20/20 manager Shona is 3rd from the left in the back row.

The refugee’s comments and feedback show they highly value the opportunity; typical comments are:

“Thank you to everyone for helping me and my family in this country”

“I can now use our Internet and computer to talk to my family back overseas”

“I’m so grateful for my computer – I was doing everything on my cellphone and the screen was too small”

“include in all social inclusion programmes”

Professor Antonio Díaz Andrade and Bill Doolin of Auckland University of Technology have written several research papers  about refugees’ use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). They underline the effectiveness of the Computers in Homes for Refugees approach, saying “ICT becomes a means that allows individuals to live the lives that they value”. They identified 5 ways that ICT enabled capabilities contribute to social inclusion and concluded that all social inclusion policies and programmes should include ICT to build these capabilities.

Desktops prove popular

Graduates at Nelson Refugee Connect Graduation

About 70% of the families choose a refurbished desktop, the remainder choose laptops.  Desktops have advantages for families: they become a shared family resource, always available in the home (laptops can become ‘adopted’ by one individual); they usually have higher performance, higher reliability and are more upgradeable; the larger screen encourages interaction and mutual learning.

Whichever the option chosen, their ex-business computers are professionally refurbished by programme partners RemarkIT and Con Brio. As well as being thoroughly serviced, cleaned  and re-initialised with fully licensed Windows 10 and Microsoft Office 2010***, they have disc and memory upgraded (if needed to meet our standards), and desktops have new keyboards, mouse and speakers.  The resulting devices are excellent, and fully warranted for 12 months.

Families choose their internet service from our short list chosen for connection performance, good value and service. These are usually unlimited data, and all are subsidised for 12 months.

It’s a holistic, team effort

Shona Te Huki, the 20/20 National Refugee Connect manager said “It has been a pleasure working with such a passionate group of training providers, Ministry of Education and Red Cross staff in the past twelve months.” 20/20 Trust works collaboratively with all parties involved in the programme, and recognises a new partner: “We welcome Southern REAP is coming on board,  bringing their long experience of delivering a very successful mainstream Computers in Homes programme.”

“Refugee Connect is supporting some of the most deserving families, who are going from strength to strength on their digital journeys.”

Footnotes

* Of course, many refugees already have considerable computer skills. For them the course acts as a refresher, a chance to become more familiar with New Zealand, a way to improve their English and an opportunity to help fellow refugees.
** Refugee Connect funding continues, although Computers in Homes is suspended awaiting renewed funding (except in Porirua where partner e-Learning Porirua has found local funding, and in South Auckland where Family Connect shares many of the proven elements.)
*** We are talking with Microsoft to change the refurbishment standard to include Microsoft Office 2016.

More information

How 20/20’s Refugee Connect works

Refugees’ stories

New Zealand Red Cross celebrates World Refugee Day and how you can help refugees

World Refugee Day New Zealand on Facebook

Research papers

Information and Communication Technology and the Social Inclusion of Refugees, Antonio Díaz Andrade and Bill Doolin, Auckland University of Technology (2016). 20/20 review, abstract and link.

The Rear-view Mirror and the Periscope: the Meaning of Computer Mediated Information for Refugees, Antonio Díaz Andrade, Auckland University of Technology, 2013, (299 KB pdf)

Computer-mediated information and communication practices of resettled refugees in New Zealand, Antonio Díaz Andrade and Bill Doolin, Auckland University of Technology, 2014, (455 KB pdf)

Contacts

20/20 National Refugee Connect manager: Shona Te Huki  021 840 053 shona.tehuki@2020.org.nz 

20/20 Media Contact: Laurence Millar  021 441 461   laurence.millar@2020.org.nz