victorian refugee health network

~ November 2019 e-Bulletin ~

Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System – interim report released

The Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System was released on Thursday 28 November. The report makes a number of recommendations to lay the foundations for future reform, including the establishment of a time-bound Mental Health Implementation Office that will operate for two years to respond to the interim report’s recommendations. 


The report recognises people from refugee backgrounds as having specific needs that are not reliably met by the current mental health system in Victoria.


The report also notes:

  • The negative effects of stigma on help-seeking among people from refugee backgrounds
  • Experiences of trauma, racism and stressful migration impact on mental health
  • Difficulty obtaining culturally appropriate services creates additional barrier for people from refugee backgrounds and culturally and linguistically diverse people more generally.

Read the Interim Report

Read the Network's submission to the Royal Commission

Review into Integration, Employment and Settlement Outcomes for Refugees and Humanitarian Entrants in Australia - final report and government response released

The final report of the Australian Government Review into Integration, Employment and Settlement Outcomes for Refugees and Humanitarian Entrants in Australia, commonly known as the Shergold Review, has been released. 


The report includes a number of recommendations to increase the economic and social contributions of people from refugee backgrounds, improve their integration and enhance their settlement outcomes. Notably, the report acknowledges the importance of good health to economic participation, and calls for "good access to appropriately funded primary health care and (as necessary) torture and trauma counselling, supported by the provision of interpreter services for all allied health services".


The government's response to the report has also been released. 


Read the report of the Review into Integration, Employment and Settlement Outcomes for Refugees and Humanitarian Entrants in Australia and the government's response


Read the Network's submission to the Review into Integration, Employment and Settlement Outcomes for Refugees and Humanitarian Entrants in Australia

Victorian Refugee Health Network statewide meeting and end of year celebration – thanks to all who attended!

The final Victorian Refugee Health Network statewide meeting for 2019 was held on Thursday 28 November. Health professionals, case workers, policy makers and others with an interest in refugee health from around the state gathered to hear updates from the Access to health services for people seeking asylum working group and the Disability Action Group, data, policy and sector updates, news from regional refugee health networks and presentations on SRSS and the Optimise project.

The meeting was followed by networking and refreshments to celebrate another year coming to a close.

The statewide meeting report will be available soon, and an updated data bulletin can be downloaded here.

NEDA and NDIA Community Radio Engagement Project

The National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) in collaboration with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is undertaking the Community Radio Engagement Project to create awareness about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) amongst humanitarian entrants and new arrivals. The project will broadcast a radio campaign in several languages that focuses on creating disability awareness and increasing the CALD community's participation within the NDIS. The radio campaign will be created via a co-design framework, where the voices, stories, and experiences of people with disability, their family and carers from a refugee background will be used to address the stigma attached to disability and increase NDIS access for humanitarian entrants.

The campaign will be in the form of ads and podcasts, and it will be broadcast in specific languages in parts of Melbourne and Western Sydney, where an increase in humanitarian intake and disability needs have been identified. Although the project aims to increase NDIS participation from CALD community members, the target audience for this project remains humanitarian entrants and new arrivals from the following language groups: Arabic, Assyrian, Chaldean, Farsi, Dari and Burmese.

This project is a one-year pilot project in Victoria and New South Wales, hopefully extending to other states in the coming years.

The co-design process will begin in January and NEDA would love to collaborate with you, hear your input on ‘key messaging’ or use your networks to identify potential participants.

For more information please get in touch at

Utopia Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health commencing services in January 2020

Utopia Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health will be commencing services in January 2020. Utopia is a primary care service that offers bulk-billed, high-quality primary care to refugees and asylum seekers. The services are provided by clinicians who have extensive experience in refugee health.


Services provided:

  • refugee health assessment and catch-up vaccination services for adults and children
  • GP-prescribers for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C
  • Culturally appropriate psychology services for survivors of torture and trauma
  • Mantoux testing
  • Treatment of latent TB for adults
  • Women's health services including medical termination of pregnancy and implanon insertion (Mirena and IUCD services to commence in mid-2020)
  • Infectious disease physician service (scheduled to start mid-2020)
  • Bilingual support workers for Karen ethnicity clients
  • Medical reports for Centrelink and NDIS


  • Those who self-identify as refugees and have a Medicare card
  • Asylum seekers without a Medicare card with evidence of asylum seeker status
  • Others welcome, but charges may apply

Contact details:
Utopia Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health
5 Alexandra Avenue
Hoppers Crossing
VIC 3029
T: 8001 3049
F: 8804 5848


Engaging business in refugee employment: the employers’ perspective
University of Sydney Business School
The aim of this report is to understand employers’ perceptions and experiences of hiring refugees, and how public policy could encourage or support employment of refugees in greater numbers on a sustainable basis.


Meaningful Engagement for Social Inclusion: A practice guide

The Practice Guide is a collection of resources and techniques from various sectors and priority areas. It includes information on how to:

  • advocate within your organisation,
  • inform decision-makers, and
  • engage with target audiences meaningfully.

Download the resource


Cervical screening is important for all women – translated resource
Cancer Council Victoria and the Multicultural Centre for Women's Health has developed pamphlets about cervical screening and how it is important for all women in English, Amharic, Arabic, Farsi, Harari, Oromo and Somali.

View the resource

Translated resource about gout
Arthritis Australia and the Australian Rheumatology Association has developed fact sheets about gout in a number of languages including  Arabic, Assyrian, Vietnamese.
View the resources


Refugee Alternatives Conference 2020
The 2020 Refugee Alternatives conference will be held in Brisbane on Thursday 13 February 2020 and Friday 14 February 2020. The conference is a two-day event focusing on improving policy, practice and public support for refugee and asylum seeker issues, bringing together a broad range of expertise covering topics of displacement; protection; cooperation; wellbeing; resilience; education; advocacy; and unity from across the country and across the globe.

For more information visit the website or register here


Job opportunity: Group pregnancy care for refugee background families Project Officers (Community Engagement)
Murdoch Children's Research Institute are seeking two Research Officers to join the Group Pregnancy Care team; one with established community networks in the Iraqi Muslim community in northern Melbourne, and the other with established community networks in the South Sudanese community in western Melbourne.

The deadline for applications is 3 December 2019. See position description for more information

NDIS Roll Out or Miss Out – International Day for People with Disability
AMES are hosting an event to celebrate the International Day for People with Disability. There will be a panel discussion on the experience of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities with the National Disability Insurance Scheme followed by lunch. It is on the 3rd of December at the Multicultural Hub.
When: Tuesday, 3 December, 11am – 1pm
Where: Multicultural Hub, 506 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne
More details and registrations

Understanding the NDIS for bicultural workers: Whittlesea
The Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH) is conducting workshops to improve the understanding of the NDIS in the bicultural and bilingual workforce.

In this free, two-hour workshop for bicultural workers, bilingual workers and multicultural education aides, you will learn:

  • What is the NDIS and how did it come about.
  • How the rollout of the NDIS is progressing in Victoria, and who is receiving support.
  • How to apply for the NDIS and what happens next.
  • NDIS concepts and key terms, and how to translate them in your language.
  • How to access free interpreting services for NDIS participants.

When: Tuesday 3 December, 10am – 12pm
Where: Whittlesea Community Connections (WCC) Community Room, Shop 111, Epping Plaza 583 High Street, Epping

For more information or to register

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.