victorian refugee health network

~ May 2019 e-Bulletin ~

Image: ‘Giving refugee and migrant youth a voice’ youth group participants learning about water safety at the beach (image used with permission).

Giving Refugee and Migrant Youth a Voice

We caught up with Kaye Graves at Bendigo Community Health Services to chat about their pilot project ‘giving refugee and migrant youth a voice’, aimed at building the resilience of refugee and migrant young people in Bendigo. The pilot was funded by the Department of Premier and Cabinet and led by Bendigo Community Health Services in partnership with Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services.


The project had four components: a youth group that met weekly over seven months; a workshop for parents about parenting in a western culture; capacity building for local mainstream youth services and a forum for youth service providers.


The youth group engaged 39 young people from refugee backgrounds who met weekly for 7 months. Group participants were aged between 15-26 years old and most, from Karen backgrounds, with smaller numbers from Afghan and South Sudanese backgrounds. The group was informed by the MYAN National Youth Settlement Framework’s principles of active citizenship, focussing on building young people’s social, civic and economic engagement and personal wellbeing.

Through group sessions, topics such as Australian laws, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, water safety and healthy relationships were covered. In a memorable session they met with local Indigenous people to learn about culture and connection to country which the young people found relatable and moving.

Outcomes include: two of the young people are now engaged in full time work and a number are now in part time work; seven of the young people have enrolled in AUSTSWIM swimming lessons; and at the end of the project all of the young people involved agreed that they had made new friends and increased their social connectedness.

In addition, the project ran a forum for mainstream youth service providers to learn about refugee sensitive practice. The forum was attended by 60 people including school teachers and school nurses. As a result of the forum, there is an agreement to establish a Refugee Youth Service Provider Working Party, which will sit below the Bendigo Refugee Settlement Network.

Australian Refugee Health Practice Guide - desktop guides and booklets available!

Photo credit: Annette Ruzicka Photography

The Australian Refugee Health Practice Guide aims to support doctors, nurses and other primary care providers to deliver comprehensive on-arrival and ongoing care for people from refugee backgrounds and  people seeking asylum. The Australian Refugee Health Practice Guide comprises the following resources:

  • Desktop guide
  • Booklets on key topics: ‘Why focus on refugee health?’, ‘Child and adolescent health’, ‘Experiences of torture and trauma: psychological effects, management and psychological approaches’
  • Website:

The 2018 update of the Guide was undertaken by Foundation House in collaboration with general practitioners, refugee health nurses, practice nurses, specialists and Primary Health Networks.

Contact if you wish to order hardcopy resources to disseminate to your local stakeholders.

Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System

The Victorian Refugee Health Network is currently preparing a submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.


Over 30 people attended a sector roundtable on 30 April 2019 to inform the submission. Participants included bi-cultural workers and community liaison workers, representatives from the Refugee Health Program, coordinators of local refugee health networks, specialist services, mental health service providers, primary care providers, asylum seeker support agencies and other interested Network participants. In addition to the roundtable, the Network submission will draw on existing Network data sources such as statewide meeting reports, project reports, and executive meeting minutes.

If you would like to contribute to the submission, please complete the survey by Friday 7 June 2019:

If your agency is preparing a submission, please feel free to get in touch for a summary of themes raised by Victorian Refugee Health Network participants to ensure the needs of people from refugee backgrounds and people seeking asylum are considered. Contact us at

Introducing Meg Quartermaine, Co-Ordinator, Victorian Refugee Health Network

We are excited to welcome Meg Quartermaine as the new co-ordinator of the Victorian Refugee Health Network. Having held roles with agencies such as Medecins Sans Frontieres, Marie Stopes and Oxfam, Meg has worked in the field of humanitarian assistance and health development for more than 16 years and has held technical, coordination and operational roles. Meg has worked in both conflict and disaster responses delivering health and support services throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific. Meg holds a Masters in Public Health and has been a sessional and guest lecturer in international and refugee health through the University of Melbourne and Monash University. Prior to her career in international development Meg worked as a Registered Nurse in Public Hospitals Victoria and the Northern Territory as well as with Forensic Services through the Victorian Department of Health.


Having worked internationally for some time, Meg has decided to come back to the Australian context for refugee health and looks forward to working with the Network.


Meg can be contacted at or on 0429437494.


New multilingual sexual and reproductive health resources
Family Planning Victoria and Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
New translated resources on such titles as Sex it’s your decision, What are STIs and BBVs?, STI and BBV testing, and  other key  topics. These resources are translated into a number of community languages including Arabic, Dari, Karen, Somali and Tamil.
Download the resources


Living with vision loss – a young woman’s story about guide dogs, Islam and disability
Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH)
In this video, a young woman of Muslim background talks about living with vision loss, and how having a guide dog has at times created difficulties with her Muslim friends.


New translated resource: Finding a home in Victoria
Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH)
Finding a home in Victoria was developed to support people of refugee backgrounds to find their way around the Victorian housing system. It includes information on tenants’ rights, how to choose an energy provider, social housing, who can help in case of homelessness. This online booklet was developed in consultation with newly-arrived communities and is published in English, Arabic and Dari.
Download the resource


Community engagement with refugee-background communities around health: the experience of the Group of 11
Paula Peterson, Samira Ali, Alie Kenneh and Ally Wakefield
This paper presents a model of community engagement with refugee background communities based on principles of recovery from trauma.
Read the abstract


Data Bulletin
Outer Northern Refugee Health Network
The Outer Northern Refugee Health Network has developed a data bulletin for agencies delivering services for refugee and asylum seekers in the north of Melbourne.
View the data bulletin


Language Services Innovation Grants Forum

Victorian Refugee Health Network
The Department of Health and Human Services-funded Language Services Innovation Grants program aims to improve the capacity of public hospitals to provide language services in acute settings in Victoria. Over two years (2017-2019), three health services have piloted innovative projects aimed at enhancing their delivery of language services, all with a particular focus on boosting access for people from refugee backgrounds, including people seeking asylum.


This forum will showcase learnings from the following projects:

  • Measuring what matters: data systems to optimise outcomes for women who require an interpreter in maternity care by Monash Health
  • Improving access and health equity in the west: Language services by Western Health
  • Improving access to professional interpreters using videoconferencing by Melbourne Health

When: Thursday 6 June, 1.30pm – 4.15pm
Where: Foundation House, 4 Gardiner St, Brunswick
Cost: Free 
Please register here or for more information please contact Rose Dupleix on 03 9389 8910 or at

Understanding the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) training for bicultural workers
Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH)
CEH are running workshops for bicultural workers wishing to learn more about the NDIS. For more information or to book a workshop contacts Sophie Dutertre on 03 9418 9911 or at


Cultural Competence E-Learning
Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH)
CEH is giving away free licenses to try their online Introduction to Cultural Competence E-Learning suite until the end of May 2019. The online course covers topics such as:

  • plain language and cross-cultural communication
  • identifying and reducing unconscious bias
  • using interpreters to reduce language barriers
  • cultural diversity in Australia and how to help people settle here.

More information


Online course: Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children
Celcis, University of Strathclyde
This free, six-week online course beginning 27 May 2019 is available to anyone and is offered in four languages: English, French, Spanish and Arabic. The course specifically focuses on the importance of considering the needs of unaccompanied and separated children and young people on the move, their circumstances and wishes.
More information including how to enrol


Upcoming training at Foundation House

View the entire 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.