victorian refugee health network

~ Jan-Feb 2019 e-Bulletin ~

Report Launch: 'School is where you need to be equal and learn'

'School is where you need to be equal and learn': Insights from students of refugee backgrounds on learning and engagement in Victorian secondary schools

Foundation House

This report presents the findings of a research project conducted by the Schools Support Program at the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc. (Foundation House). This project sought out the insights of students from refugee backgrounds on the barriers and facilitators to learning and engagement at school. Between May and December 2017, focus groups were conducted at three Victorian secondary schools, with 51 students (aged 13–19). The students were all from refugee backgrounds and had arrived in Australia within the past seven years. Through this project the Schools Support Program was able to learn directly from students of refugee backgrounds, and position them, through their lived experience, as experts on ‘what works’ to support them at school.

Participants reflected on the range of challenges, including those that impact on the mental health and wellbeing of students who are newly arrived in Australia. The issues included experiencing multiple pressures, feeling overwhelmed and missing home. Loneliness and isolation were also common themes across the focus groups. The participants spoke of the positive role of teachers and school staff supporting students of refugee backgrounds to form new friendships.

“I think for people like us when they first come to a new school, a new country, the worst thing is that they feel lonely ... Because anyone in our position we’ve lost all our friends so when you first come here you don’t know anyone and any activity that gets you to know more people will really help.”

Launch of the Hume and Whittlesea Pharmacy Waiver Program for people seeking asylum

The Hume and Whittlesea Pharmacy Waiver Program was launched by Bronwyn Halfpenny MP on 15 February 2019. The program aims to give people seeking asylum with no income access to required medications. The program is operated by Cabrini Outreach in partnership with Whittlesea Community Connections.

The program is available for people seeking asylum who are living in Whittlesea or Hume, have no regular income and need prescription medications.

For more information or to make a referral to the program please call Sonali Dahiwale, (03) 9401 6666 on Mondays and Fridays 10am - 2pm.

Submission: Review into integration, employment and settlement outcomes for refugees and humanitarian entrants

The Victorian Refugee Health Network recently made a submission to the Australian Government’s Review into integration, employment and settlement outcomes for refugees and humanitarian entrants. The timeframe for this Review did not enable the Network to consult broadly, instead the submission drew from existing data sources such as: statewide meetings and executive meeting minutes, and previous projects. The submission made a number of recommendations relating to:
• The importance of health(care) to integration, employment and settlement outcomes
• Access to effective health care for people from refugee backgrounds
• The impact of precarious housing on health
• Pathways to employment for health professionals who arrive in Australia through the Refugee and Humanitarian Program
A number of case studies were submitted to complement the submission. Case studies included descriptions of the Settlement Health Coordinators pilot project, the Victorian Refugee Health Network and the Monash Health Refugee Health Volunteer Program.

Settlement Engagement and Transition Support

Settlement Engagement and Transition Support (SETS) commenced on 1 January 2019 replacing the Settlement Grants Program. SETS includes two components: client services and community capacity building; these may be delivered by different services in the same region. The Department of Social Services has the complete list of providers on its website

RURAL AND REGIONAL NEWS - Bendigo Safe Haven Visits

Bendigo Safe Haven Visits, for Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) holders, was featured in our July 2018 eBulletin. We caught up with Gillian Wells, Volunteer with Rural Australians for Refugees and Coordinator of Bendigo Safe Haven Visits, for an update about how the program has been going.


What is the Bendigo Safe Haven Visits scheme?

Bendigo Safe Haven Visits offers three days of free accommodation to Safe Haven Enterprise Visa holders who wish to move to a regional area. The accommodation is in the homes of Rural Australians for Refugees members in Bendigo. These visits allow people living on a SHEV to find out a bit about Bendigo and consider whether they would like to move here.

How has the scheme been going so far?
Bendigo Safe Haven Visits welcomed its first settler just before Christmas. One of our October SHEV visitors moved to Bendigo and started his new job here. He seems very happy to have moved and very appreciative of the practical help he has been given to settle in.
Two other men who came in October and December are keen to move and are receiving information about potential jobs.

What usually happens on a visit?
We prefer to welcome SHEV-holders initially for three days that include the second Friday of the month. That means the monthly Multicultural Dinner, “Feast of Stories,” can be included in the program. This event has proved a good opportunity for visitors to begin making some local connections that can ease the transition to Bendigo if they do want to make the move. The scheme also connects visitors with Rural Australians for Refugees members as supportive friends who can help to make appointments with relevant community organisations (e.g. employment consultants, schools, real estate agents). We do expect the visitors to make their own way to Bendigo, though we would meet them at the train station. While they are here we will arrange times for volunteers to show them around the city. We’d be expecting a reasonable degree of independence in language.

How can we find out more or make a referral?
We have a flyer about the program - for hard copies or more information you can contact Linto Thomas, Community Development Coordinator at Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services, during office hours on (03) 5441 6644 or via email

Although we collectively took a holiday and had no visitors in January, we would welcome more referrals of SHEV-holders who would like to consider moving here. We have capacity to provide hospitality for February and the following months.


People from refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds: an open access annotated bibliography
Sally Baker
Refugee Education Special Interest Group
This annotated bibliography includes literature relating to:

• Access to, participation in, and transition out of higher education

• Schooling and refugee youth

• Adult Education (including learning host language and literacies)

• Resettlement of refugees and CALD migrants

• Employment of refugees and CALD migrants in resettlement contexts

• People seeking asylum in Australia

• Discourses and media narratives relating to forced migration

• Methodological and ethical discussions relating to research with refugees

• Citizenship and refugees


NDIS and Disability Directory
Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV)
The ECCV online directory includes key multicultural NDIS, health, disability organisations and resources. To have your organisation included in the directory, contact


Diabetes Calendar 2019 - Pictorial and translated
2019 calendar with photos and information in English and selected languages about healthy eating and diabetes.


Hepatitis Victoria
#LanguageMatters aims to improve the way we communicate about viral hepatitis and minimise stigma. #LanguageMatters provides simple alternatives to problematic words and phrases. 


Hepatitis C: Good news about treatment

St Vincents Hospital and North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network

This A5 size booklet is a plain English resource about hepatitis C. In addition to the easy to understand text, the colourful images have been developed to aid understanding of hepatitis C, and to be inclusive of people from a wide range of Australian born and overseas backgrounds. Available in English, Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese at this stage.

Contact: Gab Bennett for hard copies on email

Female Genital Cutting (FGC) Factsheets
Women’s Health in the North

These factsheets contain information about why FGC happens, where it is practised, the different types of FGC, how it impacts on the health of women and girls, and where to get help and information.



2nd Australia and New Zealand Refugee Trauma Recovery in Resettlement Conference 
Registrations are still available for the 2nd Australia and New Zealand Trauma Recovery in Resettlement Conference. The theme of the conference is Healing in Exile: Current and future challenges. International human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson AO QC will be the keynote speaker.

When: 27-29 March 2019

Where: Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre


Foundation House 2019 Professional and Organisational Development Calendar 

Foundation House

Download the calendar or register for workshops (please note some events are already booked out). 
Enquire about professional development tailored to your organisation. 


Refugee Nurses Australia (RNA) National Forum

Refugee Nurses Australia

Topics for discussion include working with people from refugee backgrounds who identify as LGBTIQ+, refugee health nursing in regional Australia, workshops to develop a novice to advanced practice framework for refugee health nursing as well as an opportunity to meet refugee health nursing colleagues from across Australia.
When: 26 March 2019
Where: Mater Hospital, Brisbane.


Multicultural domestic and family violence training
Lifeline and InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence
Designed for health, allied health and community frontline workers supporting multicultural communities. The DV-alert workshop enables participants to recognise the signs of domestic and family violence, respond appropriately and refer the case if necessary.
To be eligible for this free training, participants must work or volunteer in the health, allied health, community, higher education, childcare frontline capacity supporting the general community. Participants who complete the training are also provided with support for travel, accommodation and staff back-fill if travelling more than 50 kms from their place of work.
When: 26 and 27 March 2019
Where: Life Without Barriers, 137 Harvester St Sunshine






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.