victorian refugee health network

~ January - February 2016 e-Bulletin ~

Victorian Refugee Health Network

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Photo: Dr Sophie Oldfield, Paediatric Refugee Health Fellow

New Paediatric Refugee Health Fellow: Dr Sophie Oldfield

Can you tell us a bit about your background before taking the position as Paediatric Refugee Health Fellow at the Royal Children’s Hospital?
I am a Paediatric Advanced Trainee, and have worked at The Royal Children’s Hospital since 2009. I graduated from The University of Melbourne, and am currently completing a Master of Public Health with James Cook University.  I am hoping to go on to complete a Graduate Certificate of Health Promotion.  

I greatly enjoyed my short time at the National Paediatric Hospital, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, working mainly with children with tuberculosis. I have a special interest in community paediatrics; in particular developmental and behavioural assessments.

I really enjoy teaching and worked as a Clinical teaching fellow in 2015 with the University of Melbourne, Department of Paediatrics.

Why have you chosen this specialty? Did you always have a passion for working in Refugee Health?
I have always loved Paediatrics; the joy and energy that the children bring to the consultation, and the challenge and complexities of managing the child within the context of their family and the greater community. This is never more important than in the Refugee Health setting.  I have a long standing interest in public health and advocacy and I am incredibly excited to be joining such an inspiring and dedicated team working to improve health care for people from refugee backgrounds, including those seeking asylum.


What are your responsibilities in the Refugee Health Fellow role?
I will work within the Immigrant Health Service at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, and provide tertiary paediatric services at community health centres in Melbourne’s west. Refugee fellows also provide education services about refugee health issues, and support other child-related services  such as early intervention, schools, maternal child health nurses and allied health. I will also contribute to the development and implementation of health guidelines on Refugee Health topics, and collate recent refugee health research in Australia. 

What do you like to do outside of work?
I enjoy travelling – I lived in Granada in 2006 and 2010 and studied Spanish.  I also enjoy cycling to work and going on rides such as Around the Bay in a Day.  I also enjoy live music and dancing - which these days, thanks to my 2 year old, is more likely to be a Wiggles concert!


How can people contact you and what days are you available?
I am available Monday,Thursday and Friday
Telephone:  +61 39345 5522

Youth Transition Support pilot programme

The Commonwealth Department of Social Services Youth Transitions Support Program is an 18-month pilot program supporting 16-24 year old young people of refugee backgrounds to participate in work and education. The Foundation House Ucan2 program has been selected to deliver the program in Greater Dandenong and Casey, and the Brotherhood of St Laurence will service the Hume area.  Click HERE to read more.

Foundation House supports treaty to strengthen monitoring of places of detention

Foundation House has joined a range of individuals and organisations in signing a letter to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop requesting the Australian Government to ratify (formally approve and agree to implement) an international treaty to strengthen the monitoring of places of detention in Australia.  The treaty – called the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) – was developed by United Nations member countries because people deprived of their liberty are very vulnerable to abuses prohibited by the Convention against Torture, such cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, torture, and punishment.

Click HERE to read the letter and for more information.

Government response to the review of mental health services

The Australian Government response to the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services ‘Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities’ outlines significant mental health system reforms.  These reforms will include the amalgamation of current Commonwealth Department of Health programme activities into five core programmes, focusing on:
• National leadership;
• Promotion, prevention and early intervention
• Primary mental health care
• Suicide prevention; and
• Supporting the psychosocial needs of people with severe mental illness.


The response identifies that people from refugee backgrounds who have experienced trauma face unique challenges to their mental health and require specific services.  The response also includes a commitment to support the delivery of appropriate mental health services for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and other specific groups.  Primary Health Networks will also be responsible for a pool of flexible funding to commission services to ensure regional service integration and that local population needs are met. 

Click HERE to read a short summary of the response.

Click HERE to read the full response.

Victoria's new 10-year Mental Health Plan

On 27 November 2015, the Minister for Mental Health launched Victoria’s 10-year Mental Health Plan. The plan includes a greater focus on prevention efforts and appropriately responding to the needs of the most vulnerable people in our community.  The plan recognises that some populations face greater challenges to their mental health, including people from refugee backgrounds and those seeking asylum.
Click HERE to access the Plan.

jobactive participation for people holding a Bridging Visa with work rights

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection have confirmed that from 7 December 2015, people holding a Bridging Visa with work rights are eligible to receive jobactive employment services as Stream A volunteers for a period of six months. Volunteer job seekers can get help from a local jobactive provider to write a resume; look for work; prepare for interviews; understand the skills that local employers need; use self-help facilities; find and keep a job.

Click HERE to directly register with a provider to receive assistance, or call the Employment Services Information Line on 13 62 68.
Click HERE for the ‘Factsheet for volunteer jobseekers’.

Refugee Legal – formerly RILC – have moved and have a new name!

Refugee Legal (formerly RILC) have relocated to:
Street address: Level 6, 20 Otter St, Collingwood
Postal Address: PO Box 1139, Collingwood Vic 3066
The Refugee Legal telephone number, fax number telephone advice line and email remain the same.
Reception: (03) 9413 0101
Advice Line: (03) 9413 0100 (Wednesdays 10.00am to 2.00pm Fridays 10.00am to 2.00pm )
Facsimile: (03) 9413 0144

New multilingual printable appointment card

The Cancer Council Victoria have developed the multilingual appointment card to assist culturally and linguistically diverse Australians to more easily access healthcare appointments.
Click HERE to access the tool, provide feedback or request additional languages. 

RURAL NEWS: Castlemaine Playrug Project

Castlemaine Playrug Project: Storytelling and workshop possibilities for asylum seeker families
Textile artist Brenna Jensen and community artist and art therapy practitioner Beck Meyers initiated the Castlemaine Playrug Project in response to the reports of children in detention and the lack of possibilities for imaginative play in that environment. The project was supported by Castlemaine Rural Australians for Refugees. Early childhood development specialists stress the importance of social and imaginative play in young children’s development. This colourful and tactile playscape can be laid on the floor for children to gather around and enter into the world of imaginative play.

Storytelling performance workshops about finding a safe home have been developed around the playrug. There are two versions of the performance; one for young children 3-5 years and one for older children 6-11 years. The workshop runs approximately for 1 hour.

For organisations directly supporting refugees and asylum seekers, the storytelling workshop is FREE. And, for other organisations interested in hosting a storytelling workshop, the charge is $50 that goes towards the upkeep of the rug and transport in getting it to those who can benefit from it.

For more info: Contact Beck Meyers  & Brenna Jensen or 0468 335 765

Facebook Page: HERE
Video: HERE 


Preventing homelessness in Victoria’s older culturally and linguistically diverse populations
Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria and the Housing for the Aged Action Group

The Preventing Homelessness in Older Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities project aimed to significantly improve access to affordable housing options for older people from high need CALD communities in Victoria.
Read the report HERE


Refugee Children and Families
Trauma, Loss and Grief Network

This resource, developed with Professor Louise Newman, focuses on the traumatic events and adversities that face refugees and asylum seekers from the point of fleeing their country through to resettlement in a new country.  The resource discusses how these traumatic events may affect children and young people.
Click HERE to view the resource. 


This is Me
Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY)

CMY has launched a suite of videos to highlight the journey of refugee and migrant young people as they make Australia their new home.  The 'This is Me - Migrant and Refugee Young People Video Storytelling Project' empowered young people to speak out on issues that matter to them and share their stories with the wider community.
Click HERE to watch the videos. 


Community-led responses to violence against immigrant and refugee women in metropolitan and regional Australia
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Woman’s Safety (ANROWS)
This paper presents the current knowledge about family violence against immigrant and refugee women in metropolitan and regional Australia. The paper covers published and unpublished studies, reports, evaluations and policy papers.
Click HERE to read the paper.

Building a New Life in Australia: the Longitudinal Study of Humanitarian Migrants
Australian Government Department of Social Services

Building a New Life in Australia is a longitudinal study (2013-2018) following a large cohort of people who have recently arrived as humanitarian entrants as they settle into life in Australia. The study was established to help the Australian Government better understand the factors that aid or hinder successful settlement of humanitarian migrants during their first five years in Australia.
Click HERE for a summary of the first wave of data. 
Click HERE for a Fact Sheet produced by the Australian Institute of Family Studies from the first wave of data.

Aussie Afghans: The identity journeys of Muslim Australians, with a focus on Hazara Afghans, as they negotiate individual, ethnic, religious and national identities.
University of South Australia
Click HERE to read the working paper.


2016 Training Calendar

Foundation House
The 2016 Foundation House Training Calendar is now available.  The 2016 Calendar includes introductory workshops on working with people from refugee backgrounds, skills for identifying and working with people who may have experienced torture and trauma as well as new specialist workshops including “Supporting refugees arriving from Syria” and two free online webinars.
Click HERE to view the calendar and plan your PD for 2016. 
Enquiries: 03 9389 8965 or


Peer education methods and strategies
Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH)

This training explores the benefits and key elements of good practice peer education, with a particular focus on addressing language and cultural considerations and other social determinants of health.  The training is suitable for project staff in health, human services and local government.
When: 17 February 2016, 9:30-4:30pm
Where: CEH, 23 Lennox St North Richmond
Cost: $250, including morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and course materials
Registration and more info: HERE 


Tree of Life: an approach to working with vulnerable children, young people and adults

Relationships Australia

For counsellors, clinicians, social workers, community workers and health practitioners who work with vulnerable clients.
When: 9:30am – 4pm, Wednesday 2 March 2016
Where: Relationships Australia Victoria, 1183 Toorak Road, Camberwell
Cost:  $250 including GST. Fully catered
Enquire:  (03) 9261 8702 or email 


Mental Health Report Writing for People Seeking Asylum

An opportunity for interested mental health professionals to learn about the requirements of medico-legal reports with a mental health focus, when and how to contribute, and key dos and don’ts.

When: 9 March 2016, 4-8pm

Where: Foundation House 4 Gardiner St. Brunswick

Cost: $60

Details and bookings: HERE


Health Interpreting
Translation and Interpreting Studies, Monash University

This short course aims to improve interpreters' knowledge of specific areas within the healthcare sector, update skills, and examine what constitutes best practice and ethical behaviour for interpreters working in the healthcare field.
Suitable for: practising interpreters and those who are training to become interpreters. Participants are able to earn 60 professional development points towards revalidation of their NAATI accreditation and renewal of AUSIT membership.
When: Feb – March 2016
Cost: $495 (inc GST)
Further info: HERE


Advancing Social Cohesion: cultural, linguistic and religious diversity in Australian communities
National Practitioners Forum, Australian Red Cross
This one-day forum will assess the interactions between culture, language, religion, and social cohesion in modern Australia. The forum will look at how we can move beyond "tolerance" and work towards respect, understanding and participation. 
Date: Wednesday 2 March, 2016, 8.30am - 5.00pm
Venue: Rydges Hotel, 701 Swanston St, Carlton VIC
Cost: $60 per person + booking fee (catering provided)
Contact: to apply for a fee exemption (conditions apply)
Further info:  HERE 
Red Cross is also inviting expressions of interest from visual artists and illustrators to help document the day.  Click HERE to express your interest. 


Foundations of Culturally Competent Practice
Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH)

This training introduces health, community and local government staff to key concepts of migration, diversity and cultural competence.
When:  Wednesday 16 March 2016, 9:15am – 1:00pm
Where: CEH, 23 Lennox St North Richmond
Cost: $150 includes morning tea, lunch and course materials
Registration and more info: HERE


Stress Management for Interpreters
Translation and Interpreting Studies, Monash University

This course is designed for interpreters to learn how to better deal with stressful, distressing or confronting experiences encountered in the course of interpreter assignments. The course will feature professionals with expertise in professional interactions, stress management, self-care and mindfulness.
Suitable for: This workshop is intended for practising interpreters who wish to learn more about stress management and self-care.  Participants are able to earn 40 professional development points towards revalidation of their NAATI accreditation and renewal of AUSIT membership.
When:  Friday 18 March 2016, 9am – 4pm
Where:  Monash University Law Chambers, 555 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000              
Cost:  $148.50 (inc. GST)               
Enquiries: HERE
Entry level (Community) Interpreting
Translation and Interpreting Studies, Monash University

The short course is for people with high-level language skills in English and another language or languages who have had no previous formal training in interpreting, but who are interested in becoming an interpreter. The course is open to speakers of all languages and covers the basic skills required to be an interpreter, ethics of the profession, and the different settings in which interpreters work in Australia.
When: Feb – April 2016
Where: Monash University Caulfield Campus, 900 Dandenong Road, Caulfield East.
Further info including fees and bursaries:  HERE 


Early bird registrations open
International Childhood Trauma Conference

Childhood Trauma: Tracing new developments in relational, body-oriented and brain-based approaches to recovery and change.  The International Childhood Trauma Conference focuses on innovation in therapeutic approaches with children, young people and families.
When: 6 – 10 June 2016
Where: Melbourne Convention Centre
More info: HERE


Call for Abstracts
15th National Immunisation Conference 2016

Abstract submissions are welcome for the 15th Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) National Immunisation Conference. Themes include ‘Vaccine Preventable Diseases in special populations, including people from refugee backgrounds’.
When: Tuesday 7 June to Thursday 9 June 2016
Where: Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
Abstracts close: on 28 February 2016.
More info: HERE


About Us

The Victorian Refugee Health Network brings together health, settlement and community services to be more accessible and responsive to the needs of refugees and asylum seekers. The e-Bulletin provides a regular forum to share news and information to support practitioners and services in providing health care to people of a refugee background.