victorian refugee health network

~ May-June 2017 e-Bulletin ~

Focus on Oral Health

Photo: Shutterstock

Social Risk Assessment Tool – Monash Health

Monash Health develops a tool to assess factors impacting the oral health of refugee clients to inform treatment planning.

The risk factors identified using the tool will inform health promotion interventions, referrals, and discharge/recall process to improve oral health outcomes for this population group.
The Social Risk Assessment Tool (SRAT) was informed by existing literature on the social determinants of poor oral health among refugees, and refined through stakeholder and community consultations. Trained Dental Nurses administered the tool to all adult refugee clients attending The Monash Health Dental Service. Assessment results and clinical findings determined the overall risk level of each client and informed treatment planning.
Over 150 refugee clients have been assessed using the tool and preliminary findings indicate high rates of comorbidities, unemployment, and unstable housing as well as low levels of formal education, and limited oral health literacy. These social risks are likely to impact clients’ ability to access services and address their oral health needs. Findings have been valuable in informing tailored treatments and interventions to better meet the unique needs of each client.
Authors: Parul Marwaha, Alana Russo, Ramini Shankumar & Jacquie McBride, Monash Health

For further information please contact Parul Marwaha on 03 9792 7963 or 

Priority access and waitlists – A Refugee and Asylum Seeker Oral Health Recall Tool

A recent project by the Victorian Refugee Health Network, funded by Dental Health Services Victoria, has developed an evidence-based tool to support oral health practitioners in making decisions around dental health for people from refugee backgrounds.
In 2011 the Victorian Department of Health identified people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds as a priority group and subsequently provided a fee exemption for public dental services. People from refugee backgrounds present with varying degrees of risk of poor oral health, and oral health practitioners require an approach that differentiates those who require ongoing support to access services after an initial course of care, from those who may join general waitlists.
The Refugee and Asylum Seeker Oral Health Recall Tool is undergoing further trial in Victorian public dental services.
Read the final project report and access the tool HERE

Your client’s eligibility for Victorian public dental services

The Victorian government’s Eligibility and priority access for public dental services policy June 2014 states that all clients from a refugee or asylum seeker background are eligible for fee exemption and priority access for general or specialist dental care through the public dental system. Details HERE 

Priority access clients are eligible for the next available appointment and should not be placed on the general waitlist. Interpreters are available to clients accessing public dental health services. Public dental care is provided at community dental clinics across Victoria or at the Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne (RDHM). Click HERE to locate your client’s nearest community dental clinic, and click HERE to visit the RDHM website.


Multilingual oral health resources

Health Translations Directory
Links to multilingual oral health resources in a range of community languages are available on the Health Translations Directory HERE
Languages include Arabic, Burmese, Dari, Karen, Nepali and Tamil.

The Buddy project

Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health, Barwon Health, and Diversitat
The Buddy Project (2014-2015) was an oral health peer-to-peer mentoring project that aimed to address the barriers to accessing oral health care services for newly-arrived Karen, Afghan, and Congolese communities in the Geelong area. The project partners were the Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health (CEH), Barwon Health and Diversitat. Read more about the project HERE. View a short video about The Buddy Project HERE 


Refugee and Asylum Seeker Resources

Dental Health Services Victoria

Access DHSV information relating to people from refugee backgrounds and people seeking asylum, including eligibility for services, waiting lists and interpreters HERE 

DHSV also have a number of translated oral health resources in languages including Arabic, Dari, Persian and Tamil. Access the resources HERE


The oral health of refugees and asylum seekers: a scoping review

This literature review synthesises the available evidence on refugee and asylum seeker oral health and access to oral health care. Read the literature review HERE

REFUGEE WEEK - 'With Courage Let Us All Combine'

Refugee Week is an annual celebration of the positive contributions of people from refugee backgrounds to Australian society and coincides with World Refugee Day on 20 June. In 2017 Refugee Week will be held from Sunday 18 June to Saturday 24 June and the theme is ‘With courage let us all combine’. Information on events, news and resources HERE

Refugee Film Festival
The Cinema Nova will be screening five films from around the world. Films of resistance, resilience and freedom, these incredible stories explore what it takes to find safety and make a new home. Each film will be followed by a special Q&A with cast, directors and more. Details HERE 

Refugee Week in Melton
Stories and cultural performances. Thursday, 22 June 2017 at 12 pm – 1.30 pm at Melton Community Hall, 232 High Street, Melton. Light refreshments provided. RSVP email Essan Dileri  or phone 9747 7200.

Diversitat film screening Geelong
Screening of the film 'The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe' Tues 20 June 7pm Village Cinemas Ryrie St Geelong. Details HERE 

Partnerships and Legal Innovation in Defending Refugees with Professor Hilary Charlesworth
On World Refugee Day, Lander & Rogers, Refugee Legal, and Professor Hilary Charlesworth will discuss partnerships and legal innovation in defending refugees. 20th June, 6pm – 8pm. Details and bookings HERE 


Important MBS changes and tuberculosis

Both the Tuberculin Skin Test (TST) and blood Interferon Gamma Release Assay (IGRA) can be used to screen for latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). While under the Medicare Benefits Schedule the TST (also known as the Mantoux test) is classified as a simple pathology test (with no exclusion criteria) the IGRA differs in that up until the end of April this year a Medicare rebate was only available for immunosuppressed or immunocompromised patients.

From May 1st 2017 MBS item 69471 was amended to expand the eligibility requirements and it will now also be available for the following: a person who has been exposed to a confirmed case of active tuberculosis, a person who is infected with human immunodeficiency virus, a person who has commenced or is about to commence tumour necrosis factor inhibitor therapy or renal dialysis and a person with silicosis. The first of these inclusions - a person who has been exposed to a confirmed case of active tuberculosis - will ensure that people from refugee backgrounds who have been exposed to tuberculosis in their country of origin (or transit) will now have access to IGRA TB testing if this is recommended over TST. There are a number of clinical factors, including test availability in some locations, that will determine which screening test to preference; for example the 2016 ASID/RHeaNa recommendations state that the TST is recommended for children under 5 years of age. The IGRA will be provided by GP clinics or hospitals and will cost $34.90 with a MBS benefit or 75% or 85%. See MBS Fact Sheet HERE

Funding for interpreters – Victorian Government Budget announcement

The Victorian Budget 2017/18 will deliver $21.8 million to improve language services and meet the needs of multicultural communities. Media release HERE

This includes the Language Service Innovation Grants Program, launched on Thursday 15 June 2017. Media release HERE

Adult Migrant English Program Tender Outcomes

New AMEP service providers have been announced for the new contract period of 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2020. Details HERE

Refugee Health Fellows 2017

The Victorian Department of Health funds five refugee health fellow positions to build capacity across the state to improve refugee and asylum seeker health care. Download the 2017 Refugee Health Fellows flyer with bios and contact details HERE

Funding for Health Translations Directory

The Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health has received three year funding from the Victorian Government for ongoing management of the Health Translations Directory (HTD). The HTD enables health practitioners and those working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities to easily find translated health information. The HTD will also be expanded to include resources on human services. 



Photo: Shutterstock

Launch of Refugee and Asylum Seeker Healthcare Community of Practice in Barwon

Western Victoria Primary Health Network and G21 Health and Wellbeing Pillar in collaboration with Barwon Health, Diversitat, Catholic Care, Barwon Child Youth and Family and refugee health services have established the G21 & Westvic PHN Refugee and Asylum Seeker Healthcare - Community of Practice.
This group uses the ‘Basecamp Forum’ - an online secure platform for members to correspond, discuss issues, share information, referral pathways, brochures, reports and resources. 
The Community of Practice aims to assist in a more co-ordinated service system for people from refugee backgrounds living in the Barwon region. 
The Community of Practice is open to GPs, practice managers, nurses, psychologists, counsellors and community service providers who currently work with people from refugee backgrounds, including people seeking asylum, or who have an interest in doing so. 

For more information or to join the Community of Practice please contact Judith Emond, Western Victoria Primary Health Network, on 5222 0865 or


Assistance for rural and regional people travelling to Melbourne

Travellers Aid Australia provides a companion service to support people living in regional or rural Victoria to get to medical appointments in Melbourne. The program aims to build confidence and independence in people needing to travel to Melbourne while encouraging the use of public transport. The companion service is a free service and is available to anyone who might need guidance to negotiate inner Melbourne and the transport network to get to a medical or dental appointment. Clients are met by volunteers at Flinders Street or Southern Cross Station, and accompanied by public transport to and from their appointment. This service is particularly valuable to people who are not familiar with the city or who have any kind of disability or mobility challenge that makes it more difficult to get around alone on public transport. The service welcomes referrals for clients from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds who are living in rural and regional Victoria and need to access essential medical services in Melbourne.

The Medical Companion Service can be booked by calling 1300 700 399 or emailing Note: 48 business hours’ notice is required, though a week's notice is preferable.


Refugee Council of Australia - 2017-2018 Federal Budget Analysis 

Refugee Council of Australia

Read RCOA’s budget analysis.


Improving formal responses for refugee families in Australia
Child Family Community Australia

Recent research with refugee families and specialist service providers looks at both mainstream and specialist migrant and refugee services that are critical to supporting the resettlement of refugee families in Australia.

Australian recommendations for health assessment for people from refugee-like backgrounds: an abridged outline
The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases and Refugee Health Network

Recommends all people from refugee-like backgrounds, including children, should be offered a tailored comprehensive health assessment and management plan, ideally within one month of arrival in Australia.

New Health Complaints Commissioner translated resources
Victoria’s Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC)
The HCC has launched brochures in 26 languages to promote feedback from diverse communities to improve our health system. The HCC translations recognise the important role complaints play in quality improvement. Feedback from diverse communities is essential to ensuring our health system is safe and responsive for all Victorians. 


Community views on current challenges and future directions
Refugee Council of Australia

Consultation with people from refugee backgrounds and the services that support them regarding Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program. 


The people they make us welcome: A sense of belonging for newly arrived young people
Centre for Multicultural Youth
This 2016 paper explores how well newly arrived young people are settling by exploring their sense of belonging in the Australian community.


Update in Hepatitis B for Primary Care Practitioners


20th June 6.30pm – 9.00pm


Working with Families from Refugee Background

Foundation House

22nd June 1-4pm

Multicultural Health Workers supporting Hepatitis B: What you need to know
11th July 12.30pm – 4.30pm

Finding the words – discussing men’s sexual health across cultures
CEH Multicultural Sexual Health Network

A free forum for workers in the community sector, health settlement services, youth services, NGOs and interpreters, school nurses and teachers.
20th June - World Refugee Day 2pm – 5pm

National Multicultural Youth Conference in Melbourne

National Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network

MYAN Australia, in partnership with University of Melbourne, are hosting a national multicultural youth conference on the 23 & 24 November 2017 that will combine research, policy & practice. Register your interest HERE

CMY Statewide Forum: Applying the National Youth Settlement Framework 22nd June 9.30am – 4.30pm
Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) 
CMY is offering a practical one-day training session on the NYSF using activities and case studies for staff to explore the guide. Register HERE


Access the Foundation House 2017 Training Calendar HERE 


Access the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health 2017 Training Calendar HERE

Access the 2017 Victorian Transcultural Mental Health Training and Events Calendar HERE 


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.