victorian refugee health network

~ March - April 2019 e-Bulletin ~

Image: Ajwad Halimed (interpreter), Anwya Khananya, Margherita Coppolino, Amir Abdi and Toni Maldari speaking at the Refugee Alternatives Conference (Image Credit: Refugee Council of Australia)

New report! Barriers and exclusions: the support needs of newly arrived refugees with a disability

Refugee Council of Australia, Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia, National Ethnic Disability Alliance and Settlement Council of Australia launched this report with a panel discussion, Working with People with a Disablity, at the Refugee Alternatives Conference in Adelaide. 


The report focuses on key issues for newly arrived people from refugee backgrounds living with disabilities such as access to timely on-arrival assessment and support, lack of appropriate and accessible housing, and a lack of culturally appropriate disability services. The report makes a number of recommendations to address the existing barriers and challenges for people from refugee backgrounds living with disabilities.


Anwya Khananya, member of the Foundation House Disability Project Community Advisory Group spoke on behalf of the group during a panel discussion and the launch of this important report about the needs of people from refugee backgrounds living with disability. 

Read the report

Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System has now begun. Terms of reference have been established, and community consultations have also started. The Commission is interested to hear directly from people experiencing mental illness. The following provides information about how service providers and organisations can support people from refugee backgrounds who are living with mental illness to contribute.


A number of community consultations are taking place in areas of high cultural diversity. For quick reference these are:

• 15 April – Geelong
• 16 April – Ballarat
• 17 April – Sunshine
• 1 May – Mildura, Swan Hill
• 3 and 9 May – Melbourne
• 7 May – Dandenong
• 8 May – Preston
• 9 May – Werribee
• 16 May – Shepparton
• 17 May – Bendigo

Full details of community consultation sessions can be found here


The Commission is able to arrange access to interpreting services for people to contribute to the consultations. The best way to arrange an interpreter mediated consultation is to phone the Commission on 1800 001 134.


Organisations will be invited to make submissions to the terms of reference from mid-April to May.


Sign up for updates from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.


Contribute to the Victorian Refugee Health Network submission

The Victorian Refugee Health Network is preparing a submission to the Terms of Reference. This submission will be informed by consultations and a sector roundtable on 30 April. Please contact Samantha Furneaux if you would like to attend or (03) 9389 8915

You can also contribute to the Network’s submission by responding to this survey.


Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS)

AMES Australia, Department of Home Affairs and Refugee Health Network of Australia (RHeaNA) have developed a template to assist medical professionals providing support letters for people seeking asylum to continue receiving SRSS.


Please email if you would like a copy of the template. 

RURAL AND REGIONAL NEWS - Partners for Change: Self advocacy and diversity in Shepparton

We caught up with Janet Curtain from Diversity and Disability (DnD) for a chat about their partnership with Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District on the Self Advocacy and Diversity project. The project is part of the Group Self-Advocacy Partnership Project, coordinated by the Self Advocacy Resource Unit (SARU) with the aim of developing recommendations for self-advocacy groups to work in partnership with other organisations. This project was also run in Broadmeadows.

What did the Self Advocacy and Diversity partnership project involve?
DnD worked with the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District to support the growth of self-advocacy in Shepparton. This included facilitating a self-advocacy feast, which brought together people living with disabilities from different cultures including from local Iraqi, Congolese, and Sudanese communities to talk about self-advocacy.

What worked well in your partnership with Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District?
DnD decided to seek a partner organisation in Shepparton due to the high cultural diversity in the area. The partnership has been successful because of a number of factors, including shared values of the two organisations, respect for the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District in the community, and the equal balance of power between the two organisations within the partnership. The partnership also produced a short promotional video, ‘Partners for Change’, detailing the partnership and their efforts to support people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds living with a disability.

What’s next for the partnership?
DnD are planning two Human Rights Cafés for women and girls from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds living with disabilities and/or caring for someone with a disability. Janet is co-facilitating the Shepparton Human Rights Café on 27 June 2019 and Julie from DnD is facilitating a Human Rights Café in Broadmeadows on 20 June 2019.

Read the Self Advocacy and Diversity Project report.
For more information about the Group Self Advocacy and Partnership read the final report and model.
Watch Partners for Changevideo.


The Federal Budget: What it means for refugees and people seeking humanitarian protection
Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA)
RCOA has produced an overview of the 2019-2020 federal budget’s implications for people from refugee backgrounds and people seeking asylum. Points to note include:
• The Morrison Government has signalled its intention to repeal the ‘Medevac’ legislation if re-elected.
• Refugees and humanitarian entrants will be exempt from Jobactive employment services for the first 12 months after arrival in Australia.
• The government has cut its allocation for financial support for people seeking asylum by more than 60% in two years, from $139.8 million in 2017-18 to $52.6 million in 2019-20. 
Read the full report


Investing in Refugee Talent: Lessons Learned in Labour Market Integration

Hire Immigrants
This Canadian report features international best practice approaches to hiring people from refugee backgrounds.

Read the report


The Psychometric Properties of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire for Children from Refugee backgrounds in Australia
Ryan Essex
This article explores the psychometric properties of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) amongst newly arrived children from refugee backgrounds in Australia using data from the Building a New Life in Australia study. The study suggests caution when using the SDQ with refugee and non-English speaking populations.
Read the report


In Practice Support: Hepatitis B Screening & Vaccination

Hepatitis B vaccination has recently been expanded in Victoria to include availability for newly arrived migrants. This means that people who have arrived in Australia in the last 10 years from countries with high rates of hepatitis B are now eligible for free hepatitis B vaccination. Priority countries include China, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Thailand, South Korea, Myanmar (Burma), Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Cambodia.


If your staff or clinic would like a free in-practice session (RACGP CDP points available) on hepatitis B vaccination, or other blood borne virus topics, please contact Orly Janover on (03) 8758 0595 or via email. Please note that GP clinics in Brimbank and Dandenong LGAs will be given priority. 


Upcoming Foundation House training


View the full Foundation House training calendar

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.