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
mauhere 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 mauhere 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.
See our story in the media:
Hear about the people affected:
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
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
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
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,"
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
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