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March 29, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Race Relations review rates reporting

News

Uni seems safe for students. Go us!

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres has released a report outlining the need to ensure the safety of international students, among other priorities.

The report reviews New Zealand’s race relations in 2009 and backs up the finding of the annual UMR survey in 2009, which found that New Zealand’s Asian community are most heavily discriminated against, with 75 per cent of respondents indicating they felt or suffered ‘a great deal’ or ‘some’ discrimination.

In the education sector the report suggests effective reporting mechanisms are required to combat discrimination against international students and reduce the number of complaints, which have remained steady over the past three years.

Victoria University Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) Professor Rob Rabel says the university has an excellent record with a very low number of complaints.

“A group of staff representing faculties and student services was recently asked to collate reports of racial harassment they had received over the past couple of years, but in the past two years only one or two incidents were reported to Victoria International staff.”

Although the situation to date has been a positive one, the university is regularly monitoring its approach to international student safety.

Rabel says that despite the very low number of reported incidents, there have been recent discussions about whether racial harassment is an issue at Victoria University, both for international and other students.

“A working group will be examining the prevalence of harassment on our campus, and the adequacy of reporting systems.”

Rabel says Victoria International takes a proactive approach to international student safety, providing comprehensive advice regarding personal safety and security, emergency procedures and road safety to new students at Orientation and in the International Student Handbook.

“New international students are urged to talk to a Victoria International Student Advisor about any incidents of harassment they experience, and the 0800 number of the Human Rights Commission is provided in the International Student Handbook.

“If students report harassment to us, Victoria International Student Advisors would involve Jon Everest (Victoria’s Facilitator and Disputes Adviser), the Race Relations Commission or the police, as appropriate.”

VUWSA encourages students to report incidents of harassment of any kind to the harassment contact person in their Faculty, a trusted friend, the VUWSA Welfare Advocacy Organiser or the University Counselling Service. They also recommend seeking help off campus where necessary with the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission, police or a range of volunteer organisations.

The Race Relations Report includes other suggestions for priorities such as a constitutional review focusing on the Treaty of Waitangi, and the future of Maori seats in parliament, as well as the need for government and community action to reduce discrimination against Asian New Zealanders.

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