victorian refugee health network

~ October 2019 e-Bulletin ~

Photo: (left to right) Mary Ann Cosic, Janet Curtain, Christian Astourian and facilitator Zuleika Arashiro (ECCV – Advocacy Leader) participate in a panel discussion at the launch of 'It’s Everybody’s Business': Multicultural Perspectives on Disability and the NDIS. Photo credit: Anajli Nambissan (ECCV – Communications and Membership Coordinator)

Policy Paper Launch: 'It’s Everybody’s Business': Multicultural Perspectives on Disability and the NDIS

In 2018, as a response to the low participation of people with disability from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background in the NDIS, the NDIA launched its Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Strategy. It was projected that by 2019 around 20% of full scheme participants would be from a CALD background, in line with what could be expected if equitable access and effective inclusion were taking place for all.

In its recent policy paper, The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) consulted with migrant and refugee community members to identify what facilitates or hinders access to the NDIS and other disability services for them, their families, and their communities.

To promote a better understanding of the perspectives of people with disability from a CALD background, ECCV facilitated a panel discussion at the launch with members of Diversity & Disability (DnD), a self advocacy program led by CALD individuals with disability.

Read the policy paper 'It’s Everybody’s Business': Multicultural Perspectives on Disability and the NDIS

Medevac update

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee delivered its report of the inquiry into the Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019 on 18 October 2019, recommending that the Bill be passed. The report cites concerns with the current legislation including “the absence of a process for returning transferees; the imposition of strict grounds for refusal, which are not in line with other parts of the Act; an unrealistic timeframe for assessing security and character concerns; and a lack of remuneration for Independent Health Advice Panel members”.


Labor Senators, the Australian Greens and the Centre Alliance produced dissenting reports, all recommending that the Bill not be passed. As outlined in our submission to the inquiry, the Victorian Refugee Health Network also believes the Bill should not be passed.


What happens next?

The Senate will vote on the Bill, likely in the next sitting week in mid-November. 


Read more

'We need to raise our voices' translated summary of themes now available

The Foundation House Disability Project Community Advisory Group was made up of newly arrived people from Iraq and Syria living with disabilities and their carers who had settled in the northern suburbs. The recently released project report ‘We need to raise our voices’ details themes and advice from the group to improve services and systems for people from refugee backgrounds living with disabilities and their carers. The summary of themes from the report is now available in Arabic and English. For more information about the project or for a hard copy of the report please contact Samantha Furneaux 03 9389 8915

“If the authorities don’t hear from us, they think everything is ok” (Community adviser)

“I’m not just speaking for us. I’m speaking for any newly arrived person with a disability and the carers. If we have had this experience, they could have it too” (Community adviser)

Read the report
Read the Summary of Themes (Arabic and English version)

RURAL AND REGIONAL NEWS: From Shepparton to the United Nations

We caught up with Liaqat Ahmadi who recently represented Australia on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Committee at the Arab Youth International Model United Nations conference, where delegates debated issues such as health, human rights, refugees, peace and security, economy and climate change. 

Tell us about your background in brief
Liaqat is originally from Afghanistan, and grew up in Pakistan after his family fled Taliban violence. He arrived in Australia in 2017 with his family, to reunite with his father who had been here since 2009. Since then Liaqat has graduated from year 12, and has been heavily involved with his local community in Shepparton, in a variety of roles including as President of the Goulburn Valley Hazara Youth Association, Social Justice Champion at GO TAFE, ambassador for Multicultural Arts Victoria, and Executive member at Victorian Student Representative Council.

What events led to your trip to Dubai?
In 2018 Liaqat participated in a Community Leadership program in Shepparton, through which he came across opportunities to attend Model United Nations Conferences. After encountering difficulties in the visa application process for similar conferences in London and Thailand, Liaqat made it to a conference in Dubai, with the support of the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and district, Shepparton City Council, GO TAFE and the Fairley Foundation. In preparation for the conference, at which Liaqat represented Australia at the World Health Organisation (WHO), delegates prepared position papers relating to the management of health emergencies in refugee camps. Liaqat focused his position paper on access to health services in Australian offshore detention.

So tell us about the conference
At the conference, delegates debated and reached resolutions on issues such as Health, Human Rights, Refugees, Peace and Security, Economy and Climate Change. Liaqat wrote the WHO resolution paper, which was then presented to the General Assembly and passed. The delegates also participated in Diplomat Dinners, and received coaching on their use of diplomatic language, and on day three of the conference Liaqat was awarded an Outstanding Diplomacy Award.  Liaqat says the conference was a great educational opportunity, as well as an opportunity to make connections with young people from all over the world.

What have you brought back from the conference & what are your plans for the future?
After returning from the conference and graduating from year 12, Liaqat is considering pursuing a career in International Relations. In the meantime, he says he is also interested in organizing Model United Nations conferences here in Australia, first in Shepparton and then possibly statewide and national events.


Translated videos on healthy eating
These videos, published by the South Western Sydney Local Health District, cover topics such as Planning Healthy Meals, Shopping for Healthy Food and Making Food Safe to Eat. The videos are available in Arabic, Dari, Tibetan and Karen.
Watch the videos


My Health in Shepparton
Goulburn Valley Health
My Health in Shepparton is a local guide for refugees and asylum seekers on accessing health care in Greater Shepparton. It aims to provide easy to understand information on the Australian health care system and local health services.
The guide is available as a printable booklet and as an audiovisual resource in Arabic, Dari, Swahili and English

Use of force in immigration detention
Australian Human Right Commission
In this report the Australian Human Rights Commission deals thematically with 14 complaints issued against the Department of Home Affairs regarding the use of force in immigration detention.
Read the report


Refugee Alternatives Conference 2020
The 2020 Refugee Alternatives conference will be held in Brisbane on Thursday 13 February 2020 and Friday 14 February 2020. The conference is a two-day event focusing on improving policy, practice and public support for refugee and asylum seeker issues, bringing together a broad range of expertise covering topics of displacement; protection; cooperation; wellbeing; resilience; education; advocacy; and unity from across the country and across the globe.

For more information visit the website or register here



Advancing the Evidence: Migrant Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health Conference – call for abstracts and registrations now open!
This conference will be held in Melbourne on Thursday 27 February and Friday 28 February 2020 and will focus on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of all women living in Australia from migrant and refugee backgrounds. This may include:

  • health equity issues in policy and service delivery,
  • national and international health policy,
  • findings that build the current evidence base for migrant women's health migrant,
  • broader social and systemic factors impacting migrant and refugee women’s health,
  • connections between migrant and refugee women’s sexual and reproductive health and violence against women, mental health and work-related health.

The deadline to submit an abstract is midnight on 10 November, 2019. For more information about submitting an abstract visit the website or register for the conference


Launch: Workplace Equality: A Model for Preventing Violence Against Immigrant and Refugee Women
Multicultural Centre for Women's Health and Mercy Health are launching their new resource ‘Workplace Equality: A Model for Preventing Violence Against Immigrant and Refugee Women’. The Resource will be launched by the Hon. Gabrielle Williams, Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, Minister for Women, Minister for Youth. Following the launch, there will be presentations and a panel discussion exploring intersectional approaches to primary prevention of violence against women in the workplace, using MCWH's Equality@Work project as a case study.

When: 10 December, 1pm – 4pm
Where: Victoria Room, Queen Victoria Centre, 210 Lonsdale Street Melbourne
For more information, please contact Maria at or register here


Understanding the NDIS for Bicultural and Bilingual Workers in Shepparton
The Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health
CEH is conducting workshops to improve the understanding of the NDIS in the bicultural/bilingual workforce. In this two-hour workshop, you will learn:

  • What is the NDIS and how did it come about?
  • How the rollout of the NDIS is progressing in Victoria, and who is receiving support.
  • How to apply for the NDIS and what happens next.
  • NDIS concepts and key terms, and how to translate them in your language.
  • How to access free interpreting services for NDIS participants.

When: Wednesday 13th November 2019 – 10am to 12pm
Where: Masonic Lodge, 161 Welsford St, Shepparton
Register here or for further information, you can contact Sophie Dutertre at CEH:



Classroom strategies supporting recovery in the classroom

Foundation House
This free half-day workshop will explore the impact of trauma on learning, well-being and development; the role of teachers in supporting recovery from trauma; the indicators of a trauma reaction and referral; and strategies that individual teachers can employ to support recovery from trauma for students of refugee backgrounds.
When: Tuesday, 19 November 2019, 9.30am – 12:30pm
Where: Hume Global Learning Centre, 1093 Pascoe Vale Road, Broadmeadows 3047
Pre-requisite: Participants should have completed ‘School’s in for Refugees’ or ‘Refugee and Asylum Seeking Experiences’ or equivalent. If you have considerable experience working with people in schools from refugee backgrounds and wish to apply for an exemption for the pre-requisite, please contact Frances Tolhurst 
Please register online under 'learning'

About us

The Victorian Refugee Health Network brings together health, settlement and community services to be more accessible and responsive to the needs of people from refugee backgrounds, including people seeking asylum. The eBulletin provides a regular forum to share news, resources and information to support practitioners and services in providing health care to people from refugee backgrounds.