How important is the CERA recovery strategy to Canterbury refugees?
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Health Sciences
For the people of Christchurch and its wider environs of Canterbury in New Zealand, the 4th of September 2010 earthquake and the subsequent aftershocks were daunting. To then experience a more deadly earthquake five months later on the 22nd of February 2011 was, for the majority, overwhelming. A total of 185 people were killed and the earthquake and continuing aftershocks caused widespread damage to properties, especially in the central city and eastern suburbs. A growing body of literature consistently documents the negative impact of experiencing natural disasters on existing psychological disorders. As well, several studies have identified positive coping strategies which can be used in response to adversities, including reliance on spiritual and cultural beliefs as well as developing resilience and social support. The lifetime prevalence of severe mental health disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurring as a result of experiencing natural disasters in the general population is low. However, members of refugee communities who were among those affected by these earthquakes, as well as having a past history of experiencing traumatic events, were likely to have an increased vulnerability.
The current study was undertaken to investigate the relevance to Canterbury refugee communities of the recent Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) draft recovery strategy for Christchurch post-earthquakes. This was accomplished by interviewing key informants who worked closely with refugee communities. These participants were drawn from different agencies in Christchurch including Refugee Resettlement Services, the Canterbury Refugee Council, CERA, and health promotion and primary healthcare organisations, in order to obtain the views of people who have comprehensive knowledge of refugee communities as well as expertise in local mainstream services.
The findings from the semi-structured interviews were analysed using qualitative thematic analysis to identify common themes raised by the participants. The key informants described CERA’s draft recovery strategy as a significant document which highlighted the key aspects of recovery post disaster. Many key informants identified concerns regarding the practicality of the draft recovery strategy. For the refugee communities, some of those concerns included the short consultation period for the implementation phase of the draft recovery strategy, and issues surrounding communication and collaboration between refugee agencies involved in the recovery.
This study draws attention to the importance of communication and collaboration during recovery, especially in the social reconstruction phase following a disaster, for all citizens but most especially for refugee communities.