Republic of the Philippines

50 Hobson Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand 6011

Philippine Embassy participates in the New Zealand Diversity Forum 2013

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The Philippine Embassy in New Zealand participated in the New Zealand Diversity Forum 2013 held at the Te Papa Museum on 26 August 2013. First Secretary and Consul Arlene Gonzales-Macaisa presented the Philippine Embassy’s emergency preparedness initiatives in a Special Topic Forum entitled “Connecting with Minority Ethnic Communities: How will we respond to a greater civil defence emergency?” during a Special Topic Forum sponsored by the Porirua City Council Settlement Support.

The New Zealand Diversity Forum is a unique national convention, now in its ninth year, where people involved in race relations, human rights and cultural diversity come together to share ideas and good practice. The Forum emphasis is on practical action, with a diverse range of organizations hosting their own forums and events that together make up the Forum programme. These range from professional meetings, such as for researchers, librarians, local government community staff, museum and gallery staff, to forums on topical issues and projects.

The New Zealand 2013 Diversity Forum was hosted by the Human Rights Commission and the New Zealand Diversity Action Programme, in association with the NZ Police, NZ National Commission for UNESCO, and MSD Settling In Programme.

During the Special Topic Forum on Emergency Preparedness, Mr. George Clark George Clark, Canterbury’s Settling in Coordinator (MSD) and Chair of the Inter-Agency Network, Mr. Trevor Farmer, Porirua City Council's emergency management officer, and Consul Gonzales-Macaisa formed the panel of speakers.

In her presentation, Consul Gonzales-Macaisa discussed the Philippine Embassy’s emergency preparedness and emergency response actions such as its continuing efforts to keep in touch with leaders of Filipino organizations in the Greater Wellington Area to keep abreast of the situation of the Filipino community. She shared the Embassy’s continuing priority to post on its website and Facebook page several advisories on earthquake preparedness which, to date, include updated advisories on useful information on earthquake preparedness, contact numbers of relevant New Zealand agencies responsible for emergency response as well as hospitals and airports, location of Civil Defence Centres, where to purchase emergency survival kits as well as practical steps and useful tips on what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

Consul Gonzales-Macaisa also informed the audience that the Philippine Embassy is taking pro-active steps to meet with the Filipino community during the Embassy’s travels throughout New Zealand for its series of Mobile Consular Services program entitled “The Philippine Embassy in New Zealand: Serving with a Smile, Going the Extra Mile and Reaching Beyond Our Grasp” mobile consular services. She said that during these mobile consular services, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez makes it a point to include emergency preparedness in her talks in order to ensure that the Filipino community is coordinating with their local Civil Defence Centres and are aware of steps to take in cases of natural disasters or calamities. In her presentation, she also outlined the future plans of the Embassy including the undertaking of a seminar/workshop on safety and emergency preparedness for the Filipino community in the Greater Wellington Area in coordination with the Civil Defence Center and the Wellington Emergency Management Office.

The Philippine Embassy continues to remind the Filipino community in New Zealand of the importance of emergency preparedness. In coordination with the New Zealand agencies such as the Civil Defence Center, the Wellington Emergency Management Office, City and District Councils, and the New Zealand Police, the Embassy will continue to reach out to the Filipino community to inform them of the need to be a resilient community in times of emergencies. It consistently prompts the Filipino community to keep in mind that in the event of natural disasters and calamities, they have to prepare to be without help during the first 72 hours when emergency response teams will have to deal with cases of extreme emergency first. As such, the community is exhorted to have a survival kit, a good supply of stored water, non-perishable food and the ability to be self-sufficient for at least three days. The aim of such self-reliance is to reduce the likely impact of, prepare for, and be able to respond effectively to emergency events. The Philippine Embassy will continue to update its advisories on earthquake preparedness to provide a more accurate and up-to-date information for the benefit of Filipinos in New Zealand.

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