victorian refugee health network

~ May 2016 e-Bulletin ~

Victorian Refugee Health Network

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From left: Cabrini CEO Michael Walsh; Monsignor Anthony Ireland; Hub Manager Tracey Cabrié; Executive Director Mission & Strategy Catherine Garner, General Superior of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Italy) Sr Barbara Staley; and Cabrini Board Chairman Richard Rogers at the launch of the Hub. Photographer: Darren James. Photo courtesy of Cabrini Health.

Launch of new Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub

The new Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub (the Hub) was officially opened on Thursday 28 April. The new service will provide healthcare to people seeking asylum and refugees, with Medicare-ineligible asylum seekers given priority access to the service, at no cost.

Cabrini will work in partnership with public and private hospitals (including St Vincent’s Hospital and Northern Health), community health centres and refugee and asylum seeker agencies to deliver health services at the Hub. The Hub is located in the same building as Lentara UnitingCare’s Asylum Seeker Program who will provide referrals, advice and support to the new service. Initial services will begin in May 2016 with nursing triage and assessments, GP clinics, and specialist mental health services. These will be followed later by chronic disease management, maternal and child health and infectious disease management, as well as social, emotional and spiritual support services.

Tracey Cabrié has been appointed in the role of Centre Manager. Tracey has extensive experience working in refugee health, infectious diseases, and international health, and previously worked as a Refugee Health Nurse at Western Region Health Centre (now cohealth). Tracey says: ‘The Hub aims to be a centre of excellence for the care and support of asylum seekers and refugees. We look forward to establishing strong partnerships and referral pathways with all agencies involved in the asylum seeker and refugee sector, and to support and complement other health services that already exist. Cabrini would like to extend a thank you to all of the individuals and agencies who have provided guidance and support in the establishment of the Hub so far.’

The Hub will be regularly staffed by a practice nurse, administration assistant and in the coming months a mental health nurse and mental health social worker. Volunteer GPs, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and admin staff will be crucial to the services provided by the Hub.

GP positions are currently being recruited. If you are a GP who is passionate about working with asylum seekers and refugees and are willing to volunteer your time on regular basis, or would like to know more about the Hub please contact – Tracey Cabrie on

The Hub is located on the ground floor at 503 Sydney Road in Brunswick.

‘Refugee Health Matters’ – Conducting a Refugee Health Assessment

‘Refugee Health Matters’ is a regular newsletter written by the Victorian Refugee Health Fellows. Each newsletter has a particular focus – the April 2016 edition provides information about conducting a health assessment for refugees and other humanitarian arrivals (Refugee Health Assessments). Refugee Health Assessments may be conducted over a number of sessions, ideally commenced within the first month of arrival, and must be billed within one year of a person’s arrival. The new Recommendations for comprehensive on arrival health assessment for people from refugee-like backgrounds, released by the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases (ASID) and the Refugee Health Network of Australia (RHeaNA) details a more tailored approach to investigations for humanitarian arrivals. This has been summarised in the newsletter.
Read the newsletter HERE
View the new ASID and RHeaNA Recommendations for comprehensive on arrival health assessment for people from refugee-like backgrounds HERE
Access the Refugee Health Assessment template HERE
See the Refugee Health Fellows contact information HERE

State Budget funding for increased refugee arrivals

An additional $2.9 million was allocated in the 2016-17 Victorian state budget for on-arrival health services to respond to the needs of the approximately 4,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees expected to arrive in Victoria from this year as part of the increased Commonwealth Humanitarian Program intake. Funding will support the Refugee Health Program, health screening, immunisation and language translation services. Read the Budget papers HERE


Photo courtesy of of Latrobe Community Health Service.

Karen community welcomed in Moe and Latrobe City

Latrobe Community Health Service ran sessions in November and December 2015 to welcome newly-arrived Karen community members to Moe and Latrobe City. The sessions ran once a week, for two hours every Tuesday, with the aim of introducing and orientating new arrivals to services in the area.
Sessions covered topics including online services at Centrelink, English classes, health and well-being, oral health, and healthy eating. Participants were encouraged to ask questions throughout the sessions through the use of a phone interpreter, as face to face interpreters were unavailable.
Sixteen participants attended, ranging from toddlers to people in their mid-30’s. Clients were invited to participate in the program by the Latrobe Community Health Service Refugee Health Nurse and Settlement Services Program staff.
Refugee Health Nurse Wendy Ruddell says “clients benefit by making links with community agencies and also get important information on key health areas”. Participants reported that they felt much more connected to the area by knowing where the services are and how to connect with them. Following the event, clients were supported with follow-up referrals to programs such as local GPs, housing, and employment agencies.


ATIS Voice automated immediate phone interpreting

ATIS Voice is TIS National’s automated voice-prompted immediate phone interpreting service, allowing you to access interpreters in high demand languages without having to wait in a queue to be assisted by an operator. ATIS Voice uses voice recognition technology to identify the language requested and automatically connect you with an interpreter in that language. The service is currently available in 18 languages, including Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Somali, and Vietnamese. You can access ATIS Voice through a free call 1800 number, reducing calling costs for high volume users. ATIS Voice users also receive a 10 per cent discount off TIS National’s immediate phone interpreting charges, so using the service will reduce interpreting costs.

To register for an ATIS Voice account number and access number (different to a TIS National client code) complete the application form HERE

Learn more about ATIS Voice HERE

Changes to process for claiming Medicare benefits

From 1 July 2016, Medicare will no longer provide payments by cheque. This means your patients/clients will need to register their bank account details with Medicare so their benefit can be paid directly into their bank account via EFT.
What you need to do
Advise your patients/clients that from 1 July 2016, Medicare benefit cheques are stopping and that they will need to register their bank account details with Medicare in order to receive their payments. Your patients/clients may need support with registering their bank account details:

You can also download the Bank Account Details Collection Form and print copies for your patients/clients.

Stay connected to the Primary Health Networks

The key objectives of Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services for patients, particularly those at risk of poor health outcomes, and improve coordination of care to ensure patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time.

PHNs retain a catchment and community focus, working with General Practitioners and primary health providers to improve care and support. PHNs have a key interest in mental health/alcohol and other drugs, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, population health, health workforce, eHealth, and aged care. PHNs with large refugee-background populations also deliver refugee health-focused programs and projects.

The PHNs regularly post details of local initiatives, training and development opportunities and updates. Stay in touch with your PHN using the links below:

Eastern Melbourne PHN
Gippsland PHN
Murray PHN
North Western Melbourne PHN
South Eastern Melbourne PHN
Western Victoria PHN
Victorian PHN Alliance

New Blogs on Refugee and Asylum issues

Two new blogs have been recently launched focusing on issues affecting people from refugee backgrounds and people seeking asylum.
Asylum is the blog of the Melbourne Refugee Studies Program (MRSP). The blog is intended as a space for discussing policy, sharing research and reports, posting information about public forums and events, and any other issues of importance to asylum seekers and refugees. MRSP invites contributions from researchers, educators, students, health, social services and legal professionals, those who work in community agencies providing services to asylum seekers and refugees, policy makers, program managers and above all welcomes people from refugee backgrounds and people seeking asylum to directly share their views and experiences. Read the blog HERE
Refugee Research Blog provides a platform for academic and non-academic research and comment on issues surrounding people seeking asylum and refugees. The blog is hosted by Researchers for Asylum Seekers, an interdisciplinary organisation based at the University of Melbourne. The primary audience is people working with people seeking asylum and refugee issues in academia, the non-government and community sector, various levels of government, advocates, consultants, and the general public. Read the blog HERE


Seeking English
Seeking English is a live database of English classes from all over Melbourne, specifically for people seeking asylum. This database is a joint project of the Network of Asylum Seeker Agencies Victoria (NASAVic). Use the database to locate an English class at the right time and place HERE 
If you know about or run an English as an additional language class that is not on the list, please email and include the following details:
1. Organisation name
2. Address of classes
3. Days and times of classes
4. Details including eligibility, level of classes and any other relevant details.
5. Cost (most are free, and the rest are very cheap)


Working with Refugees & Bicultural Work with Refugees
AMES Australia

These training resources are available free of charge to agencies wanting to enhance the skills of their staff in working with people from refugee backgrounds. The resources support two new units in the National Training Framework: Working with Refugees & Bicultural Work with Refugees. Access the resources HERE

A platform for action: Report from the national roundtable on responding to violence against culturally and linguistically diverse women and their children
Department of Social Services

The report outlines the discussions from the first national roundtable on responding to violence against culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women and their children. Read the report HERE


Building Strong Families DVD
Relationships Australia

This DVD explains how Australian family roles and values may differ from those experienced by newly-arrived families in the country they have come from. People who are newly arrived share their stories of settling in Australia, and highlight the range of services available to support and strengthen families that will help them cope with changes and challenges. The DVD is available and English, Arabic, Burmese, Dari, Dinka, Farsi, Haka Chin, Karen, Nepali and Tamil. Order the DVD HERE


From Horror to Healing: A Life-saving Journey Supported by the UN Fund for Victims of Torture
UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

This brochure documents stories of victims of torture who have regained their dignity and rebuilt their lives with the help of organisations supported by the United Nations Fund for Victims of Torture. Download the brochure HERE


Refugee Health and Wellbeing: A Strategic Framework for Queensland 
Queensland Health

This plan articulates a shared vision and promotes a statewide approach to improving the health and wellbeing of refugees in Queensland. The plan includes the establishment of a statewide Refugee Health & Wellbeing Network to provide support, build capacity and improve partnerships and coordination across health services, refugee settlement agencies and the non-government sector. The Victorian Refugee Health Network is very excited about this development and looks forward to working with our colleagues in Queensland as the Network is established. Read the plan HERE


The Refugee and Asylum Seeker Experience

Foundation House
Date: Thurs, 2 June 2016
Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Venue: Foundation House, 155 Foster St. DANDENONG
Cost: $230 (lunch, morning and afternoon tea included)
Suitable for: Anyone new to working with refugees and asylum seekers.
More info and booking:  HERE


Refugee Women’s Health for Nurses and Allied Health workers

Foundation House
Date: Thurs, 9 June 2016
Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Venue: Foundation House, 4 Gardiner Street, Brunswick
Cost: FREE for Nurses and Allied Health workers (lunch, morning and afternoon tea included)
Suitable for: Nurses and allied health staff working with refugee background populations in a variety of settings 
More info and booking:  HERE


Psychology and Culture Online Conference

This one day online conference will explore themes including how culture impacts on psychological approaches and assessment, and the impact of Torture and Trauma. 

Date: Saturday 18 June 2016

Time: 9am-6pm

Cost: $195

Suitable for: GPs, mental health professionals, case managers, community leaders, and others working in refugee health.

Register: HERE 


Culturally Competent Youth Practice

Centre for Multicultural Youth
A one-day training program that will increase your capacity to work confidently and effectively with young people from diverse cultural backgrounds. For: youth workers, social workers, case workers, volunteers, direct line staff, project officers and managers.
Dates: Wed 22 June 2016 OR Mon 27 June 2016
Times: 9am-5pm
Venue: CMY Training Room, 304 Drummond St, Carlton
Register: HERE


Inaugural national Multicultural Women’s Conference 2016
Early bird registrations and call for abstracts are now open. Abstract submissions by 5 August, early bird / presenter registrations by 31 August.
Conference dates:  3-4 November 2016
Venue: Parkroyal Parramatta, Sydney,
Details: HERE 

Save the date!  ECCV State Conference - “The Next Generation of Multicultural Victoria”
The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria State Conference will be held in Ballarat on Friday 11 November 2016.  The conference will be co-hosted by ECCV and the Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council.


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Alemi, Q. Weller, SC. Montgomery, S. James, S. 2016, ‘Afghan Refugee Explanatory Models of Depression: Exploring Core Cultural Beliefs and Gender Variations’, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, published online: 26 April. 

Belihu, FB. Davey, M. Small, R. 2016, ‘Perinatal health outcomes of East African immigrant populations in Victoria, Australia: a population based study’, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, published online 26 April. 

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About Us

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.