The Office of Ethnic Affairs has been praised for its work in helping Christchurch's ethnic communities access accurate information on crisis assistance and other available services following the earthquake.
Minister for Ethnic Affairs Pansy Wong says language barriers are posing problems for some in Christchurch's ethnic communities with the Office receiving numerous calls from community leaders and other contacts expressing concern over security and a lack of knowledge of other services available to them.
"The Office has been brilliant in responding to these concerns. One of the first actions taken by Ethnic Affairs was to ensure the Christchurch City Council's call centre provided Language Line interpreting to people with language barriers.
"Many people were unsure of the requirements of the Earthquake Commission, the process of insurance payout and when properties will be checked.
"The OEA has distributed posters and notices in English, Mandarin, Korean, Arabic and Thai on the availability of Language Line for help lines and key services where all that information is freely available.''
Mrs Wong says the office also liaised with the Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) to ensure ethnic businesses requiring assistance were included in the Christchurch business community's needs assessment.
"The OEA is there to assist those ethnic businesses having trouble in responding to the CDC's Survey Monkey to assess what assistance is needed and I urge anyone who is having difficulty to contact them.
"The Office has also ensured that volunteer groups who have organised themselves to support ethnic communities such as the Christchurch Chinese Earthquake Support Group, receive information about government services and support to pass on.
"I congratulate Ethnic Affairs Director Mervin Singham and his team for the hard work they have done in making life easier for our communities following this crisis.''
Mrs Wong said it was important for the communities and the Christchurch economy that everyone had access to the appropriate support.