victorian refugee health network

~ November-December 2015 e-Bulletin ~

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Photo: Shutterstock

Photo: Shutterstock

Refugee Health Matters – Syrian Refugees

The latest edition of Refugee Health Matters, the newsletter from the Victorian Refugee Health Fellow program, is now available. This edition has a focus on people escaping the conflict in Syria and will assist refugee health nurses and doctors to provide the most appropriate care for this patient group. This edition was prepared by Dr Tom Schulz, Infectious Diseases Physician and former Refugee Health Fellow. Read the newsletter HERE

Latest humanitarian settlement and bridging visa data

AMES Australia publishes quarterly Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) data for Victoria, including the number of arrivals, family size, country of origin, and settlement locations. The statistics for July to September 2015 are now available HERE

See all the AMES HSS data HERE    

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has recently updated their report on the number of people who are currently seeking asylum who arrived by boat and have been granted a Bridging E visa (BVE). The updated report is available HERE

PAIS Guidelines: Eligibility criteria for Government-funded legal assistance for vulnerable people seeking asylum

The Primary Application Information Service (PAIS) is a Government-funded service to help eligible people seeking asylum to apply for a protection visa. PAIS is only available to a small percentage of protection visa applicants, who are deemed to be exceptionally vulnerable. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has drafted additional guidance on the PAIS eligibility criteria to assist stakeholders to identify those people who may be referred to PAIS assistance. Read the PAIS Eligibility Criteria and Assessment Process Guidelines and a Fact Sheet for PAIS Stakeholders HERE

Mental health services can now use the Appointment Reminder Translation Tool

The NSW Refugee Health Service's Online Appointment Reminder Translation Tool allows you to translate appointment details into your client's language. The tool has been updated for use by mental health services with the advice of the NSW Transcultural Mental Health Centre. Select the ‘Emotional Health’ appointment type to create a translated appointment card. Appointment details are in a PDF format that can be given to the patient, emailed, or posted. Available in 30 languages. Access the tool HERE

RURAL AND REGIONAL NEWS: Wodonga Refugee Health Nurse wins Distinguished Service Award

The Victorian Refugee Health Network congratulates Refugee Health Nurse Penny Wilson on receiving a Distinguished Service Award from the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. The award recognised Penny’s work at the Gateway Health Multicultural Clinic.   

The Multicultural Clinic has been open since late 2013 and specialises in providing care to people from refugee and migrant backgrounds, and Aboriginal people.

The Clinic has a ‘drop in’ policy, where clients are triaged by a clinic nurse and seen by a GP on the same day where possible. The Clinic provides comprehensive refugee health assessments, and refugee clients have access to free massage therapy provided by students from the local TAFE, chronic disease and allied health services, specialised chronic pain and infectious disease specialist care via Skype consultations with hospital in Melbourne. The Clinic has developed a Refugee Chronic Pain Network engaging a team of allied health providers to provide holistic chronic pain management, resulting in many clients coming off pain medication and living a more fully engaged life.

The Clinic has developed several programs to enhance the quality of life and social engagement of newly-arrived refugees, including the Culture Club, a monthly social gathering where people from refugee backgrounds can come together to cook food, learn about health, and meet other support agencies, yoga classes, and in the New Year will train Health Ambassadors to share health messages within their communities.

The Clinic is a member of the Albury Wodonga Ethnic Communities Council, provides education and support to local health services and specialists about the importance of using interpreters, and has recently won a large grant to run a series of employment workshops. You can follow the work of the Clinic via their Facebook page HERE


Promoting community-led responses to violence against immigrant and refugee women in metropolitan and regional Australia
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety

This report examines current knowledge about family violence against immigrant and refugee women. The report identifies key gaps in literature, particularly in connection to the ways immigration policies, structural disadvantage and location interact with immigrant and refugee women’s experiences of family violence. Read the report HERE


Intergenerational relations in newly-arrived communities in Victoria: a pilot study report
Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria

This report examines relations between parents and adolescents in newly-arrived refugee and migrant communities in Victoria as they negotiate the challenges of migration, settlement and integration. Read the report HERE


Local Government Services for Refugees Focusing on African Muslim Refugees

Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government
This report examines seven Australian local government council initiatives to support newly-arrived refugees in settlement, employment, education, and housing. Includes Hume City Council in Victoria. Read the report HERE


Evaluation of the Humanitarian Settlement Services and Complex Case Support programmes

Department of Social Services
The Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) and Complex Case Support (CCS) programmes are designed to support newly arrived eligible humanitarian entrants in becoming self-reliant, fully-functioning members of Australian society. The Department of Social Services (DSS) engaged Ernst & Young to evaluate the HSS and CCS programmes, with a particular focus on the appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of the programmes. Read the evaluation report HERE 


Improving maternity care for refugee and migrant women in Western Australia
Department of Health WA

This report was informed by consumer focus groups undertaken by the Refugee and Migrant Womens Working Group to understand the specific needs of refugee and migrant women and families accessing maternity care. Read the report HERE


Tamil Community Consultation Report
NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors

This report is the culmination of several STARTTS consultations with Sri Lankan Tamil community groups in Sydney. The report provides a history of the conflict in Sri Lanka, the Tamil community in NSW, and issues relevant to health including traditional ways of coping, mourning, and current needs. Read the report HERE


Delays in Citizenship Applications for Permanent Refugee Visa Holders 

Refugee Council of Australia
This report is based on 188 interviews with people of refugee background who are eligible for citizenship after being in Australia for four years on a permanent humanitarian visa but have experienced considerable delays in the citizenship process. Read the report HERE


Refugee Health Webinar - On-arrival health assessments for children
Dr Karen Kiang, Paediatric Refugee Health Fellow at the Royal Children’s Hospital, presents a webinar about on-arrival refugee health assessment for children. This is timely, as many of the 12,000 additional humanitarian entrants from Syria and Iraq will be children. Presented in partnership by the Victorian Refugee Health Network, Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network, South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network, and Melbourne Primary Care Network. 
Suitable for: GPs, nurses, and other interested professionals including settlement case workers
Date: Thursday 4 February 2016
Time: 12.30 pm – 2.00pm
Venue: ONLINE GoToMeeting platform. Login details will be emailed to registrants before the event.
Cost: FREE
CPD: Application has been made for 4 RACGP QI&CPD Points

Enquiries: Lauren Tyrrell on or 03 9389 8996

Register: HERE


Sustainable Refugee Settlement Conference

This conference aims to promote innovative and progressive strategies to improve the settlement of refugees. For government, settlement, and community service providers. Speakers include Paris Aristotle (Foundation House), Jorge Aroche (STARTTS), Paul Power (Refugee Council of Australia).

Dates: 8-9 March 2016
Venue: Mantra Parramatta, Sydney
Register: call 1300 316 882 or book online HERE


Culturally Competent Practice with Vulnerable Families -2 day course in 2016

This is valuable content for those working with children and families in the community health, education and community services sectors, particularly with the arrival of large numbers Syrian refugees in Australia early in the New Year. This VICSEG evidence-based two day course is delivered bi-monthly in 2016.
Dates:  Monday 21 & Tuesday 22 March 2016
Wednesday 11 & Thursday 12 May 2016
Wednesday 13 & Thursday 14 July 2016
Wednesday 14 & Thursday 15 September 2016
Venue: Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, Level 5, 50 Market Street Melbourne
Cost: $470.00 incl GST Morning/Afternoon Tea and lunch provided
To register: contact Judith Gray on or 03 9353 5811.


Triennial International Conference of the Settlement Council of Australia
Focus on Settlement and Citizenship in Civil Society. Registrations are now open.
Dates: Thursday 5 – Saturday 7 May 2016
Venue: ZINC, Federation Square, Melbourne
Register:  HERE 


Abstracts Now Open for 2016 Primary Health Care Nurses National Conference
We encourage nurses working in primary health care to share an abstract related to their work with people from refugee backgrounds or people seeking asylum. Abstract submissions close at 5pm Monday 14 December.
Dates: Thursday 5 – Saturday 7 May 2016
Location: Melbourne
Submissions: HERE


Abstracts Now Open + Save the Date – North American Refugee Health Conference
Conference will discuss current refugee health issues and highlight best practices in the field. Abstract submissions are now being accepted for poster or oral presentations.
Dates: 12-14 June 2016 
Location: Niagara Falls, New York

Abstract submission deadline: 1 March 2016

Submit abstracts & check for updates: HERE



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.