Asylum Seekers Equality Project

Join us in demanding policy change

The Asylum Seekers Equality Project is campaigning to have people with convention refugee status included under the New Zealand Government’s Refugee Resettlement Strategy.

#SameCircumstancesSameSupport

Sign our Petition

Join the Movement

Sign our petition to acknowledge that the New Zealand House of Representatives has a moral obligation to ensure all people with refugee status in New Zealand receive the same treatment and support.

Like our Facebook page to keep updated of our events throughout the year.

Sign our Petition

Sign our petition to acknowledge that the New Zealand House of Representatives has a moral obligation to ensure all people with refugee status in New Zealand receive the same treatment and support.

Join the Movement

Like our Facebook page to keep updated of our events throughout the year.

Understanding the Distinction

All former-refugees in New Zealand have fled from certain death or persecution in their home countries. Yet depending on how they arrived in New Zealand, they are labeled and treated differently.

Some people are allocated for resettlement in New Zealand by the United Nations under a quota set by the government and are labelled “quota refugees”. Others, called asylum seekers, manage to reach New Zealand by their own means and claim refuge once they arrive. If their application is successful, they are labelled “convention refugees”.

The only distinction between people with quota and convention refugee status are their labels. Both have fled the same wars, persecution or circumstances and therefore deserve the same support.

However, Convention refugees are not extended the same rights and services that are offered to quota refugees. As a result, they are often left to navigate the complexities of resettlement alone.

Why it Matters

If people with convention refugee status are not afforded the same basic rights and services as people with quota refugee status, their ability to build a new life in New Zealand is severely limited. They are hindered in their efforts to learn English, find a job or access housing and medical care. This causes severe stress, and aggravates existing trauma.

It is equally as important for our communities that former refugees have positive resettlement experiences. Studies have continuously shown that former refugees perform just as well in school as their peers if provided with the right support, and that they become assets to their communities and to the economy if given the tools to resettle successfully. If resettlement support is not provided, it results in long-term dependence on social welfare services.

Providing equal resettlement support for all refugees in New Zealand is far more beneficial to our society as a whole. When interviewed for ChangeMakers report Marking Time, people with convention refugee status all stressed that they do not want to be a burden on New Zealand. Rather, they chose to resettle here because they saw it as a place where they where they would get a fair chance to start a new life and contribute to their communities.

Our Campaign – Equal Support

In 2013, ChangeMakers Refugee Forum published Marking Time, a report that highlights the inconsistencies in treatment that people with quota and convention refugee status receive. Whilst the report was concerning, it received minimal media attention, and thus drew little support. In 2016, ChangeMakers Refugee Forum asked the Human Rights team to read the report and see if we could utilise the research for the work we do in the community. We were shocked at the arbitrary distinction created by the New Zealand government, and so decided to build up a campaign around the issue. Over the past two years, we have worked on raising awareness of the problems faced by convention refugees, and continue to lobby for policy change in the area.

Read our policy statement

Contact Your Local MP

One of our long-term goals is to see policy change. You can use the email template below to get in contact with the Immigration Minister or your local MP to discuss the issue.
We want to encourage people to educate their friends, family and wider communities to try and change societal attitudes on refugees and asylum seekers.

Education is one of the most powerful tools that can change the world.

- Nelson Mandela

Asylum Seekers Equality Project

The Asylum Seekers Equality Project (ASEP) is an initiative run by the Human Rights branch of the Wellington Community Justice Project (WCJP), a charity that operates from Victoria University of Wellington Law School. The WCJP aims to improve access to justice and legal services in the community and to provide law students with an opportunity to gain practical legal experience.

ASEP was founded in response to the report Marking Time created by Changemakers Refugee Forum in 2013. ‘Marking Time’ details the resettlement experiences of successful asylum seekers in New Zealand.

ASEP is made up of three teams: Policy, Government and Media. Our Policy team researches and analyses existing government policy, statistics, international models and key stakeholder groups to form the project’s comprehensive policies. From here, our Government team looks at how this research and ASEP’s policies match up with refugee policies across the political spectrum, connecting with a wide range of MPs and stakeholders to present policy recommendations. Our Media team brings all this together by running an innovative campaign to raise public awareness. Media organise ASEP’s speaker events, fundraisers, our social media, as well as gaining petition signatures.