victorian refugee health network

~ January - February 2018 e-Bulletin ~

**Please note there may be some formatting issues in this eBulletin if you are viewing it in Outlook.  They do not affect access to the content.**


Photo: IPC Health staff, with permission

Changes to Humanitarian Settlement Program health alerts

The Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) came into effect in October 2017 and has resulted in changes to the health alerts received by settlement service providers. The purpose of health alerts is to ensure people who have serious medical conditions are provided with suitable medical attention on arrival in Australia. 


Two types of health alerts can be triggered:

Potential Medical Issue – based on information contained in the Immigration Medical Examination which identified at the time that the person had a serious medical condition, possibly requiring medical follow-up immediately on arrival. The medical issue is classified as ‘potential’ due the possibility that the medical issue may be resolved by the time the person arrives in Australia.


Critical Medical Issue – triggered when a Departure Health Check (DHC) identifies that a person has a serious medical condition requiring medical follow-up immediately on arrival in Australia. Clients with Critical Medical Issues will usually be accompanied on their journey to Australia by a travel escort and require a medical appointment within 24 to 72 hours after arrival.


Confirmation on whether a Potential Medical Issue has become a Critical Medical Issue may not always be available, as DHCs are not mandatory.


If a client has a Potential or Critical Medical Issue, the settlement service provider must:

• make the necessary health appointments
• forward the client’s health report to the relevant health practitioner

For more information about health alerts, please contact your local HSP provider.

Health information transfer for new arrivals

Shortly after the HSP contract commenced, health services noticed  that Settlement Reports were not being transferred regularly as under the previous contract.

Refugee Health Network of Australia (RHeaNA) and Refugee Nurses Australia sent correspondence to the Department of Social Services (DSS) in December 2017 raising concerns about the cessation of Settlement Reports for HSP arrivals. RHeaNA received a response in January 2018 that stated:

  • DSS are not willing to continue to manually generate the Settlement Report summaries for all new arrivals, just for people identified as ‘high risk’.
  • Health Services have been directed to contact Home Affairs to gain access to HAPlite, an immigration health database.

RHeaNA and the Victorian Refugee Health Network have been liaising with Home Affairs who have informed us that:

  • HAPlite will be available around March 2018
  • each state must nominate administrators for HAPlite
  • to access a patient’s files in HAPlite health services will require the HAP ID#, which HSP providers will have.

We remain seriously concerned about the lack of health information being transferred for new arrivals. We have requested that DSS reinstate the previous system of health information flow until a new health information system is operational throughout the state.


We recommend that refugee health service providers communicate any critical incidents or near misses that occurred due to lack of health information with HSP providers .

See DSS fact sheet for further background information.

Free eLearning: Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health: essentials for general practices

South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (SEMPHN) in collaboration with North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN), Victorian refugee health fellows and the Victorian Refugee Health Network have developed five short eLearning videos to assist general practices in their work with people from refugee backgrounds and people seeking asylum. 

The module includes:

• Identifying refugees and asylum seekers in your general practice
• Working with interpreters and ensuring effective communication
• Conducting a refugee health assessment and common illnesses
• Immunisation for asylum seekers and refugees
• Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS): focus on refugee health


The Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health module can be accessed on the Practice Coaching website. Registration for Practice Coaching is quick and free!


Participants are issued a Certificate of Completion that can be used to demonstrate Continuing Professional Development (CPD).


Bendigo Community Health Services has hosted the region’s inaugural Refugee Youth Leadership Program
The two-day event, facilitated by the Centre for Multicultural Youth, brought together 17 young potential leaders from the Karen, Afghan and South Sudanese communities.

Cultural diversity and relationships manager Kaye Graves said the program was designed to build confidence and skills. “The focus of the program was to ensure young people have every opportunity to have their voices heard, develop skills and lead change in their communities,” she said. Kaye said the program helped the group build an understanding of leadership and how their actions and those of the teams and groups they form could create positive change. Read more 


Translated pocket guide about the Australian healthcare system
Western Refugee Health Partnership & North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network
The Western Refugee Health Partnership has recently produced a pocket guide for people from refugee backgrounds and people seeking asylum about the Australian healthcare system. The pocket guide is written in plain language and aims to assist new arrivals to understand and navigate the healthcare system. It is available in English, Arabi, Farsi, Dari, Karen and Nepali. Free printed  copies of the guide are available for distribution.

If you would like printed copies, please contact Maggie Arnold, Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health Program Officer, NWMPHN, on (03) 9347 1188


Intersectionality matters: a guide to engaging immigrant and refugee communities to prevent violence against women
Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
This guide aims to assist people and organisations to develop violence prevention approaches, strategies and activities in ways that effectively engage immigrant and refugee communities to prevent violence against women.

Recommendations for practices and protocols for interpreters to follow in mental health interactions
Language Loop & Monash University
These recommendations include definitions of key terms, protocols, ethical considerations, self-care, content knowledge, and patients’ rights and legal terms. Information on medico-legal tribunals and legislation is also provided. These recommendations are intended to assist interpreters to work optimally in mental health interactions with both mental health professionals and consumers.

The languages we speak in Sydney and Melbourne
Small Multiples
These maps visualise the Language Spoken at Home data from the 2016 Census.

Private and community sector initiatives in refugee employment and entrepreneurship
Lowy Institute for International Policy
This working paper explores the experiences of refugee entrepreneurs in Australia and reviews the policies and programs designed to assist refugee entrepreneurs in Australia and other countries.


Working with women and girls affected by Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C)
Women’s Health West
The FARREP program at Women’s Health West is offering free professional development training to health professionals to build their capacity on the social, cultural and clinical needs of women and girls affected by Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). If you would like to request a professional development training session, please contact Samsam Geereh on (03) 9689 9588 or by email


Hepatitis B s100 Prescribers Course for GPs
North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network
This training will enable GPs to effectively diagnose, manage and treat chronic hepatitis B in the primary care setting. Successful completion of the training and assessment will accredit community-based medical practitioners to prescribe s100 highly specialised drugs for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B.

Date: 25 Feb 2018, 8.30 - 5.00pm  

Venue: 17 Doveton Avenue, Eumemmerring VIC 3177

Cost: Free

Further information or to register

Working with Young People from Multicultural & Refugee Backgrounds – National Youth Settlement Framework
Centre for Multicultural Youth
Suitable for youth workers, case workers, social workers and anyone in community development working with young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds.
Date: 27 February 2018, 9.30 - 4.00pm
Venue: 304 Drummond Street Carlton, VIC 3053
Cost: $90
More info


Same issues, different context: East African women’s barriers to mental health care
The workshop is for psychologists and counsellors seeking a better understanding of the background and context in which East African women experience mental illness. This workshop is presented by Nadia Faragaab, a Somali youth worker and practising visual artist.
Date: 28 February 2018,10.30 - 12.30pm
Venue: Kathleen Syme Library Carlton
Cost: $170
Bookings and more info: contact Nadia on 0421 480 174 or email


Front of House:  Working with people from refugee backgrounds
Foundation House

This workshop will focus on the journey and settlement issues for people from refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds. It will also focus on identification, eligibility and access to health services in Victoria and will include information on language services and health literacy.
Suitable for all staff working in front line reception in public and private health services including general practice, dental, optometry and allied health services.
Date: 1 March 2018

Venue: Foundation House, 4 Gardiner St Brunswick

Cost: Free
More info and to register


Blood Ties: Hepatitis B in our community
St Vincent’s Hospital 
Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health
This workshop is designed for health workers to increase
• Knowledge and understanding of transmission, diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis B
• Knowledge on how to deliver appropriate health literate and culturally competent care to people affected by hepatitis B.
Date: 3 March 2018, 9.30 - 3.30pm
Registrations and more info


Refugee and asylum seeker experiences
Foundation House

This one day workshop provides a comprehensive introduction to working with people from refugee backgrounds. Participants will gain knowledge of the context and experiences of people from these backgrounds, and explore ways of working together. The workshop will also explore positive working relationships and maintaining worker resilience in a challenging environment.
Date: 8 March 2018

Venue: Foundation House, 4 Gardiner St Brunswick

Cost: $250 (includes morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea)
More info and registrations


Health Literacy Masterclass: Using health literacy for health service improvement and community development
Deakin University Health System Improvement Unit
An intensive masterclass for managers, executives, health professionals, health planners, policy makers, researchers, and those active in health promotion and community services.
Date:  22nd and 23rd March 2018
Venue: Deakin Downtown, Level 12, Tower 2, 727 Collins Street Melbourne 
Cost: $950 plus GST (includes lunch, morning and afternoon tea)
More info and registrations


Health Literacy four day course
Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health
You will learn practical ways to improve health literacy at an organisational, systems and practitioner level. You will also undertake projects that activate knowledge and benefit your organisation.
More info


“Workplace rEvolution: Blueprints for a Diverse Tomorrow”
Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV)
The ECCV state conference will be held on 17 – 18 May 2018
More info


2nd Australia and New Zealand Trauma Recovery in Resettlement Conference
Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT)
The conference theme, Healing in Exile, will examine the most innovative and successful ways to support people from refugee backgrounds as they recover from trauma and resettle in their new context.
Date: 27-29 March 2019
Venue: Brisbane

More info


2018 Training Calendars

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.