victorian refugee health network

~ January-February 2017 e-Bulletin ~

                      Click on the links to the right to scroll down =>



Photo: Dr Tom Volkman

Introducing New Paediatric Refugee Health Fellows

Two new Paediatric Refugee Health Fellows have started at the Royal Children's Hospital Immigrant Health Service. The Victorian Refugee Health Network welcomes Dr Tom Volkman and Dr Rachel Heenan to their new roles. We caught up with Tom Volkman for the following profile:


Background in brief before taking this position:
Tom is almost finished his General Paediatric training and is a joint trainee in Infectious Diseases. He has worked his way around Australia anti-clockwise, from Tasmania to North Queensland to Western Australia with a stint at the International patients division at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and is glad to be settling in Melbourne.

Reasons for choosing refugee health as a specialty:
Tom developed his interest in global health and the care of displaced peoples during medical school electives in Kenya and on the Thai/Burma border. He has worked as a general paediatrician with indigenous populations in Kalgoorlie Western Australia. He completed his Masters in Public Health and Tropical Medicine at James Cook University in 2012. He has gone on to undertake humanitarian missions in neonatology in Pakistan (with MSF), PNG and Haiti (amongst other scattered places). Refugee health was a natural fit bringing together interests in public health, infectious diseases and care of displaced and disadvantaged patients. Tom enjoys public speaking, advocacy and teaching and will be a teaching fellow with the University of Melbourne in 2017.

Responsibilities in the Refugee Health Fellow role:
Tom's role will include working with the Immigrant Health Service at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, and providing tertiary paediatric services at Craigieburn Health Service. The role also includes education and advocacy regarding refugee health issues, support of early intervention, schools, allied health and maternal child health nurses, and development of guidelines and research on refugee health topics.

Interests/hobbies outside of work:
Tom loves Bushwalking and mountaineering, single malt whisky and travelling the world (69 countries and counting). He is looking forward to getting married in 2017 and the subsequent honeymoon!

Availability and contact details:
Tom is available Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Telephone: 03 9345 5522

Count Me In: promoting sports participation for young people from refugee backgrounds

Count Me In is a project assisting young people from a refugee or migrant background and their families to participate in local sports clubs and organisations. Regular physical activity improves physical and mental health and participating in organised sport provides opportunities to develop new skills and confidence, make new friends, and build connections with the local community. When the Network consulted with people from refugee backgrounds during the Talking About Health project, many people said they wanted more opportunities to participate in affordable exercise and organised sports activities. Many clubs are keen to be inclusive, but families who are new to Australia may face difficulties finding and joining a local club. Count Me In is a partnership project between University of Melbourne, Merri Health, and several other partner organisations.


The Count Me In team has formed partnerships with the following clubs in the Moreland and Hume areas:

  • Hadfield Netball Club
  • Hadfield Football Club
  • Pascoe Vale Hadfield Cricket Club
  • Haig Fawkner Cricket Club
  • Soccer Rising Stars
  • Futsal Oz
  • Coburg Little Athletics

The Count Me In team hopes to add Soccer and Basketball clubs to this list soon as well. Community Support Coordinator Sarwat Nauman has been assisting families to find, join and participate in clubs that suit their needs and interests.


To refer a young person living in the Hume or Moreland areas to join a netball, cricket, futsal, athletics, soccer or Aussie rules club contact Sarwat Nauman on or 0497 085 397. A flyer for the project in English and Arabic is available HERE

A Seat at the Table: Young people from refugee & asylum seeker backgrounds talk mental health

A new HealthWest Partnership project will use a co-design approach to bring young people together with local service providers to promote mental health and participation in mental health services in Melbourne’s western region. HealthWest is seeking expressions of interest from relevant agencies and community organisations working in Melbourne’s west to participate in a stakeholder advisory group for the project. They are also seeking five community members to take part in the stakeholder advisory group. Community members must live in the western suburbs of Melbourne, and have an interest in refugee and asylum seeker mental health, and promoting the community voice. They welcome people from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences to apply. For more information about the project, and to express interest in participating in the stakeholder advisory group, contact Project Officer Mohammad Karimi on 9248 9653 or

Foundation House Dallas office now open

The new Foundation House Dallas office providing services to clients in the northern suburbs of Melbourne is now open. Foundation House is located on Level 4 of the Hume Community Hub Building, which houses several other community services such as AMES Australia, Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre, NEAMI, WISE Employment and Arabic Welfare. Lifts will take you to Level 4 and Foundation House reception.

Address and contact details:

Level 4, 61 Riggall Street, Dallas, 3047

Telephone: (03) 9389 8899 


For information on referral to Foundation House services click HERE  
For other information about Foundation House click HERE

New Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub Referral Form

The Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub has a new referral form. The Hub provides access to a range of health services for people seeking asylum at no cost to the client. Services include nurse-led assessments, immunisation, GP clinics, psychiatry (requires
GP referral) and specialist mental health care.
Eligibility criteria:
People seeking asylum who:

  • do not have a Medicare card
  • have a Medicare card with limited or no income support
  • are receiving SRSS (psychiatry only if there is wait list capacity)

Of those who are eligible, priority of access will be given to clients who have complex medical needs, complex mental health issues, are pregnant, have a disability, or are families with children.
To refer a client to the service, follow the referral process outlined in the new referral form HERE


Rural doctor wins Victorian General Practitioner of the Year award

The Victorian Refugee Health Network congratulations Dr Mehdi Sanati Pour, who was recently recognised as the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Victorian General Practitioner of the Year. Dr Sanati Pour was recognised for his many achievements, which include running a weekly refugee health clinic at Tristar Medical Clinic in Mildura.


The weekly clinic is run in partnership with the Refugee Health Nurse Team from Sunraysia Community Health Service (SCHS). A team approach was adopted to assist with the coordination and management of health care for refugee and asylum seeker clients. Refugee Health Nurse Kate Maloney is co-located at Tristar Medical Clinic on Thursday mornings working alongside Dr Sanati Pour and practice nurses to complete GP Refugee Health Assessments for newly arrived refugee and asylum seeker clients.


This team approach has resulted in a direct pathway between the GP and SCHS services, and increased opportunities for partnership development and capacity building of health and medical services such as pathology, radiology and specialist services, for the benefit of people from refugee backgrounds settling in the Mildura region.

Victorian Womens Trust Grants for Refugee Women and Girls in Regional Victoria

Applications for 2017 Victorian Women’s Benevolent Trust Grants are now open. This year, the Trust particularly welcomes applications for projects benefiting women and girls that promote social inclusion and community cohesion in regional Victoria, and address the needs of refugee and migrant families or women or girls who are experiencing socio-economic disadvantage, lack of education or training opportunities, or who live with a disability or illness. Applications for the 2017 grants close on 24 March. Apply HERE


Translated mental health resources

A new beyondblue webpage brings together a series of reputable translated resources covering a range of topics including pregnancy and new parents, information for families, general mental health information, and information for health professionals. Visit the page HERE


Making a complaint against police multilingual resources
Victoria Police

Victoria Police has produced a suite of translated resources on how to make a complaint against police. These brochures are available in a number of community languages HERE


Updated: Refugee & Asylum Seeker Mental Health Referral Pathway – West Metro Melbourne

HealthWest Partnership

This information will assist settlement, health and community service staff who deliver services to refugee and asylum seeker clients to navigate the mental health service system in Melbourne’s west. The updated tool includes services for children and young people. It also includes new services such as the Independent Mental Health Advocacy Service and the Cabrini Asylum Seeker & Refugee Health Hub. Access the resource HERE

Speaking up: The global refugee youth consultations in Australia
Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN)
 & Refugee Council of Australia
This report presents the voices and recommendations of 555 young people from refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds, detailing their concerns, how they were able to settle into a new country, and what they think should be improved. Read the report HERE


Settlement in the digital age: digital inclusion and newly arrived young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds
Centre for Multicultural Youth

This policy paper examines newly arrived young people’s engagement with digital technology and the internet and how this impacts their successful settlement in Australia. Read the paper HERE


Engaging professional interpreters during labour
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

This policy and practice brief reports on the learnings and achievements of the Bridging the Gap initiative Language in Labour. The initiative found that improving interpreter engagement in high intensity hospital birth suites is possible with supportive leadership, multidisciplinary codesign and within a framework of quality improvement cycles of change. Read the brief HERE


Supporting Refugee Families in Australia
The Institute of Child Protection Studies Research to Practice Series

This issue explores the challenges experienced by refugee families resettling in Australia; the informal and formal supports they access and barriers to these supports; the characteristics of supportive services and implications for policy and practice. Read the report HERE


Australia’s humanitarian program: a quick guide to the statistics since 1947
Parliamentary Library

Updated in January 2017, this quick guide includes humanitarian entrant estimates between 1947–48 and 1976–77 and statistics on Humanitarian Program visa grants – both offshore and onshore – from 1977–78 to 2015-16. Access the guide HERE


Red Cross National Practitioners' Forum 2017: ‘Falling through the gaps: Destitution and need in migrant communities’
The Red Cross National Practitioners’ Forum brings together community sector staff and volunteers, researchers, policy-makers and other stakeholders, to explore issues and ideas with a focus on practice, to take workable, relevant ideas back to their workplace. This year’s Forum will address the circumstances of migrants who 'fall through the gaps' - people made vulnerable by migration who are ineligible for or ignored by existing services. A range of speakers will provide attendees the opportunity to explore how service providers can support and empower people who fall through the gaps. 
Date: Wednesday 22 March 2017
Time: 8.30am-5.00pm
Venue: Melbourne Town Hall, Corner Swanston and Collins Street, Melbourne
Cost: FREE but bookings are required
Register: HERE Registrations close Friday 10 March


2017 National Forum on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): Foundations for Change
This all-day forum will be opened by researcher and women’s rights activist Ms Amina Warsame from Network Against FGM/C in Somaliland (NAFIS), followed by a series of panel discussions with topics ranging from ways of strengthening health systems and building women’s capacity to seek support and advocate for change within communities.
Date: Friday 24 March 2017
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: Woodward Conference Centre, 185 Pelham Street Carlton
Cost: $100
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 will no longer compile 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.