Deportees

Home again - PARS support for deportees

It is common for deportees to arrive in New Zealand with virtually no support or access to resources. Changes to the Australian Migration Act in December 2014 have enabled Australian officials to facilitate the deportation of suspected or convicted criminals, with 119 people deported to New Zealand from Australia between January and mid-August 2015. It is estimated up to 1000 people will be deported to New Zealand from Australia in the next five years following the recent law change. Almost 400 New Zealanders' visas have been cancelled since the law change and nearly half of these people are in Australian immigration centres awaiting deportation. Old habits, an unfamiliar environment and a lack of positive, supportive social connections mean many ex-prisoners reoffend when they arrive back in New Zealand - unless they get the support of PARS.    One News clip

See our story in the media:

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Hear about the people affected:

Harry:  Dropped off with nowhere to go

Harry's* story is a familiar one to the PARS team, who are already supporting at least three deportees each week. His family moved from New Zealand to Australia when he was three and he lived there for over 25 years; despite being Kiwi-born, Harry feels most at home as an Aussie. However, due to his official status as a New Zealander, he was deported back to New Zealand upon release from prison.

Arriving in New Zealand, Harry knew no one, had nowhere to go and had $200 to his name. "I felt free, but like I was somewhere I'd never been before," says Harry. "I had nothing and I knew no one. Where should I go? How should I get there?" Luckily, PARS was there to help.

Getting Harry back on his feet

The police officers who accompanied Harry suggested he seek PARS' support, and contacted the PARS team, who sent Graham to collect him at the airport. "I didn't know who PARS were at the time, but I remember thinking "Gosh, that's nice of them to go out of their way to help me when they don't even know me,"" he says. "I didn't know just how much they would come to help me."

PARS provided Harry with accommodation in a motel for a few nights, then sought permanent housing suitable for him and his young son, which was a "huge weight of his shoulders." "I was relieved to have PARS' support," he says. "How far was $200 going to get me? I knew that if left on my own, I would have re-offended just to get by."

Getting Harry and his son into a house was difficult, as he had no references, bank details, and no personal connections in New Zealand. "The PARS team were extremely proactive, and they kept looking until they found somewhere that suited my boy and I," he says. "They then helped me set up a bank account, an IRD number and payments with WINZ, and accompanied me to appointments to ensure I understood the systems and was getting the right help."

Support for the whole whanau

"Graham helped me to understand that I was not alone," says Harry. "He made me feel really welcome in New Zealand. It's so encouraging to have that kind of support behind you - I realised how hard it would have been on my own in that situation, and Graham and PARS really made a huge difference." 

The PARS team also helped Harry access services to give his son the best upbringing possible. "PARS helped me look into schools and other services you need to access when you have a young child," he says. "Their staff helped me settle in, and got the community behind me in a really good way, which had a real impact as I had people who could vouch for me."

"Without the support from PARS, who knows where I'd be now? It's likely I'd be in jail or on the streets," says Harry. "PARS' support has really made a difference to my life. I have a lot of respect for all their staff and volunteers, and I really appreciate everything they've done for me." 

*Name changed for privacy reasons

 

John: PARS - positively transforming the lives of deportees

Thanks to PARS Inc (based in Mt Eden, Auckland), John* has been able to make a home for himself in New Zealand. Born in New Zealand, he moved to Australia as a young child, living 46 of his 47 years in Australia. Growing up as an Aussie, he surely never expected to one day be back in his country of birth against his own choice. However, once here, PARS gave him a second chance at life.

Coming back "home"

John has had a difficult adult life, struggling with mental illness, including ADHD and OCD. Because of these difficulties, he fell into a dangerous lifestyle, spending a total of 12 years out of the last 24 behind bars. When his last sentence was up, the courts ruled that he should be deported - back to his "homeland," New Zealand.

When John arrived in New Zealand he had nothing - no money, no friends, no family, and no connection to our country, other than the knowledge that he was born here. Sadly, this wasn't much comfort to him. "I was put back in this country and didn't know a soul. I came back here with nothing," says John.

A second chance

After saying goodbye to her husband, unsure of when she would see him again, John's wife contacted PARS, hoping that they could help him settle in. A week after he arrived, PARS was on the case. Help dealing with WINZ was just part of it, as PARS assisted John in getting set up in his own place. Case workers from PARS "went to bat" for him, according to John - finding furniture, linens and pots and pans to furnish his new home, and help make John feel secure and stable. He maintains, "they bent over backwards for me."

Since PARS became involved in his life, John has begun a positive journey towards responsibility and happiness, and has since taken on a new job concreting, which is helping fill his time, as well as earn him some money. He is determined to get back on his feet, and make some money to help out his family.

Fighting for his family

After being without them for so long, John is desperate to be with his family again. He is hoping to bring his wife and children to New Zealand to be with him, although custody issues with his stepson may prevent the family from being reunited. Despite this setback, John remains positive about staying out of prison and supporting his family. Soon, John's son will be coming over, an event that brings him huge joy, and he couldn't be more thrilled that he has his own place in which he can take care of him.

Without PARS, says John, "I would probably be back in prison, as it would have been easier than trying to create a whole new life here in New Zealand without any support." He was encouraged by PARS to "keep battling," firm in the belief that things would fall into place - and so far, that seems to very much be the case.

John couldn't be more positive about the difference that PARS has made in his life, insisting "they don't get enough credit for what they do." With his positive attitude, hard work, and the help of PARS, John has managed to turn his life around.

*Name changed for privacy reasons