victorian refugee health network

~ July-Aug 2017 e-Bulletin ~

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Photo: Settlement Health Coordinators, Lisa Scott, Natalie Henry and Jacinta Bongiorno (L-R)

Settlement Health Coordinators Pilot Program

A pilot program has been established to co-locate experienced Refugee Health Nurses with AMES settlement services. Three nurses were appointed in late 2016 as Settlement Health Co-ordinators (SHC) who provide triage and referral for newly arrived people from refugee backgrounds.

The SHCs aim to improve the quality of assessments and referrals to health services by building the capacity of AMES Australia settlement case managers and improving health triage practices. The SHCs provide an important link between Refugee Health Programs delivered by community health services, AMES Australia settlement services and broader health and human services.

The SHCs are based at AMES Australia in Dallas and Footscray, where there are large numbers of people from Syria and Iraq settling, and are employed by Plenty Valley Community Health, Dianella Community Health and IPC Health.


Contact the Settlement Health Coordinators
AMES Footscray

Jacinta Bongiorno
Phone: 0437 128 197



AMES Dallas
Natalie Henry

Phone:   0429 375 794


Lisa Scott
Phone: 0437 977 214



The pilot was funded in the 2016-17 Victorian State Budget increase in funding for refugee health.


Humanitarian Settlement Program Tender Outcomes

AMES Australia
It has been announced that for Victoria the Humanitarian Settlement Provider is AMES Australia.
See the media release which includes case management guidelines HERE

Supporting people seeking asylum to lodge their claim by 1 October 2017

1 October 2017 is the deadline to apply for a Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) or Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) for people seeking asylum who arrived without a valid visa. 

Except in very exceptional circumstances anyone who has not applied by 1 October 2017 will be barred from further applications and required to depart Australia (‘the hard deadline’).

My client has said that they will not be able to lodge their Protection Application by the 1st October deadline?
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has advised that they MUST contact the Department immediately and tell them why:


Can my client still get Government funded assistance to apply for their Protection application?
If your client has acute barriers to lodging an application, that client may be able to get legal assistance to lodge. Please note that DIBP has not defined what an acute barrier is. These referrals for assistance must be emailed to:


For non fee paying legal assistance Refugee Legal and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) have said that they are still taking referrals.

Free Translating Service of essential documents - now online

Department of Social Services

The Free Translating Service is offered by the Department of Social Services for permanent residents and select temporary or provisional visa holders to have up to ten eligible documents translated, into English, within the first two years of their eligible visa grant date. This service may be of particular use to families seeking translation of personal documents, medical histories and qualifications.

This service is now provided online. 

The application can be lodged by an individual or on someone else's behalf and requires a number of certified copies of the documents, including the applicant's passport. Each applicant can get up to 10 documents translated for free.
More information
Lodge an application:

Clients requiring additional assistance can call 1800 962 100 between 9am-5pm Monday - Friday

Immunisation Update – National Immunisation Program Expansion

The Australian Government Department of Health announced that from 1 July 2017 the National Immunisation Program would expand to include “free catch-up vaccines for all individuals aged 10 to 19 years, and refugees and humanitarian entrants aged 20 years and over.”
See the National Immunisation Program – Expansion fact sheets for providers HERE

New Refugee Health Fellow: Simon Stokes

Background in brief:
Simon is in his final year of General Paediatric training. He trained in medicine in Perth and relocated to Melbourne to pursue interests in childhood development, child community health and public health. He has worked all over Australia including in Darwin, and Port Hedland in his medical career. He has a particular interest in the challenges facing Indigenous Australians in rural and remote areas.

Reasons for choosing refugee health as a specialty:
In Simon’s previous role as a general paediatrician in the Northern Territory he was involved in the delivery of culturally aware health services in disadvantaged communities. A trip to East Timor as a volunteer gave further insights into health education and service provision in resource poor settings. Simon has established an interest in immigrant health after completing a year in community medicine in the inner Western region of Melbourne. During this placement he became familiar with the constraints and barriers to accessing adequate health and education for children of immigrant, refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds. Refugee health brings together his passions for community medicine and caring for disadvantaged communities. 

Responsibilities as a Refugee Health Fellow:
Simon's role as a Refugee Health Fellow includes working with the Immigrant Health Service at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, and providing tertiary paediatric services at cohealth in Footscray. His role also includes education and advocacy regarding refugee health issues, the provision of supportive advice for schools, allied health practitioners and maternal and child health nurses. He will also be involved in the development of guidelines and research on refugee health topics.

Interests/hobbies outside of work:
Simon enjoys scuba diving, hiking and experiencing different cultures, having travelled widely through Central and South America. In choosing to settle in Melbourne he had to forgo the WA sunshine, but is more than recompensed with the food and cultural scene that Melbourne has to offer!

Availability and contact details:
Simon is available to be contacted Monday to Friday, but will also be in his other role as General Medical Fellow for part of this time.

Telephone: 03 9345 5522

Strategic Plan - Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)


The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has released their strategic plan for the next 18 months. The plan includes supporting “the engagement, settlement and social cohesion of newly arrived Victorians”. Read more HERE

North American Refugee Health Conference Toronto: June 16-18 2017

Photo: Jamuna Parajuli, Refugee Health Nurse showing her poster to Anna Banerji, Course Director of North American Refugee Health Conference

(Image: Jamuna Parajuli, Refugee Health Nurse, showing her poster to Dr Anna Bannerji, Director of the North American Refugee Conference. Used with permission.)

The three-day North American Refugee Health Conference was attended by 700 delegates, 16 from Australia, two from Melbourne. Most other delegates were from Canada and USA, who both have strong resettlement programs. Delegates shared different models of care for meeting the on-arrival and ongoing health needs of people from refugee backgrounds, and systems developed to manage more complex health needs.

Several partnerships were showcased that harness resources from multiple organisations to best meet the needs of the communities from refugee backgrounds. One interesting example was a program that was developed in upstate New York to respond to adults who are deaf from refugee backgrounds ( Several forums focused on rights based approaches to working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and/or intersex people (LGBTI) people who are fleeing persecution, including a presentation by International Organisation for Migration (IOM) who have released a comprehensive resource LGBTI training package


The full conference agenda may be viewed HERE

The 2018 conference will be held June 7-9 in Portland, Oregon, USA.


NDIS information sessions - Hume and Moreland

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will be rolled out in Moreland and Hume from March 2018.
Moreland and Hume Councils are holding free NDIS information sessions for local people with disability, parents and carers.
The sessions cover:
• What you need to know about the roll-out of the NDIS in your area.
• Basics on the NDIS: what it is, who can benefit, what it funds and how it works.
• Hear from people who have transitioned to the scheme.
• Questions answered, both personal and technical about preparing for the NDIS.
Date: Wednesday 23 August (6.30 - 9.30 pm) and Wednesday 6 September (10 am - 1 pm) 
Venue: Concert Hall, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg
Cost: Free
Please contact Council for interpreters or access needs.

More info: HERE


Telehealth for Refugee Care Melbourne Health

In October 2016 Melbourne Health was successful in attracting funding to launch a refugee telehealth outreach program to Shepparton. This means patients are able to use secure video conferencing technology to see Melbourne based specialists. Primary Care Connect are leading the program in Shepparton for refugee clients, as part of the larger Telehealth project based at Melbourne Health.

This initiative aims to ensure that new humanitarian arrivals and those already in the community are being cared for in accordance with best practice guidelines. The program will also work to enable patients from refugee backgrounds to access interpreters via video conference.

Tim Andrews, Clinical Services Manager and Jenny Lia, refugee health nurse at Primary Care Connect in Shepparton are leading the implementation of this program. Within weeks of the official launch on 1 June 2017, Jenny Lia has already assisted four families to access specialist services via telehealth, saving many hours of travel.
Telehealth is now available for selected refugee patients of Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Children’s Hospital and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (see links below).


Telehealth Victoria

Telehealth Victoria has established a Community of Practice to support practitioners and practices who are using telehealth. The Telehealth Victoria Community of Practice (COP) enables collaboration among members of the Victorian health workforce who are involved in implementing, supporting, managing and evaluating telehealth access to their health services. Read more HERE


2016 Census: A snapshot of our diversity

Australian Bureau of Statistics

These census figures describe the diversity of the Victorian population. Read more HERE

Responding to Refugee and Asylum Seeker Mental Health
Health West Partnership
This report summarises the outcomes from the Improving access to mental health services for refugees and asylum seekers in the west project. A number of capacity building, awareness raising and service coordination initiatives were implemented throughout the project.
A summary of the report can be read HERE

The referral pathway tool can be accessed HERE

The People They Make Us Welcome
Centre for Multicultural Youth 
This report details how young people from refugee backgrounds become established in a new country. Read the report HERE 


Navigating the Victorian Education System
Centre for Multicultural Youth
A guide for young people finding their way in the education system in several languages. Access it HERE


Health Interpreting
Monash University

This short course examines the principles and practices associated with interpreting in healthcare settings. Topics include the healthcare system, communication between medical practitioners and patients, and special considerations when working with patients from CALD backgrounds.
Dates: Friday 25 August and Friday 1 September (attendance is required at both sessions)
Venue: Monash University Law Chambers, 555 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Applications close 5.00pm, Friday 18 August 2017
Register: HERE

Refugee health & wellbeing: essentials for assessment and management in general practice
South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (SEMPHN) and Monash Health
2 September 2017
Time: 8.30am - 4.30pm
Venue: Quest Central Dandenong Central, 2-10 Walker St, Dandenong
Register: by 28 August HERE


Introduction to Suicide Risk in Refugee and Asylum Seeker Clients

Foundation House
An introduction to the basic components of suicide risk assessment and how these apply to people from refugee or asylum seeking background.
Date: Thursday 7 September 2017,
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Venue: Foundation House, 4 Gardiner St. Brunswick
Cost: $250
Suitable for: anyone working with refugees and asylum seekers and who has not had training in suicide prevention
Bookings and further information: HERE


Healthcare in a Person-Centred Era
The Alfred Health General Medicine Unit and the Centre of Research Excellence in Patient Safety 

The forum presents practical, evidence-based approaches to improving patient care through engagement and communication.
Date: Friday 22 September 2017
Time: 9:00am-4:30pm
Venue: AMREP Lecture Theatre, the Alfred Hospital, 75 Commercial Road, Melbourne
Register: HERE


Training Calendars


The Victorian Refugee Health Network eBulletin no longer compiles a list of the latest refugee health research. The Immigrant Health Service at the Royal Children’s Hospital maintains a clearing house for refugee health research in Australia on their webpage 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 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.