victorian refugee health network

~ October 2016 eNews ~

A focus on sexual and reproductive health

Extract from SHARE comic - reproduced with permission from CEH

SHARE - Sexual Health and Relationships Education

The Multicultural Health and Support Services (MHSS) at the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health recently launched a new free online resource: SHARE – Sexual Health and Relationships Education.
SHARE is a set of comics relating to sexual health and healthy relationships, with characters and scenarios reflecting the diversity of Victoria’s population. The comics are accompanied by facilitator’s guides (with questions and prompts for discussion), culturally competent fact sheets and information about services. SHARE is targeted towards any and all workers who have the opportunity to facilitate discussions about sexual health and healthy relationships with young people, such as teachers, school nurses, youth and community workers. 

MHSS runs community education sessions about sexual health and healthy relationships for refugee and migrant communities. Together with technology studio Paper Giant, MHSS explored ways to extend their reach using technology.  A literature review and face to face research with young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds led to the development of SHARE.
SHARE appears as a simple resource, a group of comics with open questions. This method allows exploration through the lens of the individual’s understanding of the world, rather than through a dictated narrative, acknowledging the many truth’s that exist for young people from diverse backgrounds. Early feedback indicates that participants eagerly engage in the comic scenarios through discussion and take away new information about sexually transmissible infections and respect in relationships. Visit the website HERE

Community Education Sessions in Sexual and Reproductive Health

Several organisations deliver interactive, culturally sensitive and free sexual and reproductive health education sessions for refugee and asylum seeker clients that are tailored to the needs and interests of the group.


Multicultural Health & Support Service (MHSS) aims to prevent HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in refugee, migrant and asylum seeker communities, by raising communities’ understanding of BBV/STI issues. MHSS provides specialised community education sessions for priority communities and population groups. Information sessions for community groups, such as ESL classes or women’s groups, can be booked online HERE


Family and Reproductive Rights Education Program (FARREP) uses bilingual health and community workers to provide education and activities to raise awareness about Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) across a wide range of communities, ages and situations. FARREP workers also provide consultation, education and training for service providers, offer referrals and support for women directly affected by FGM/C, and undertake specific projects in partnership with relevant organisations (eg. schools, research organisations, etc.). Find a FARREP program in your area HERE

The Water Well Project facilitates health education sessions for refugee and asylum seeker community groups, delivered by qualified volunteer health professionals including doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health. Professional interpreters can be provided for sessions during business hours. Sessions cover topics such as Contraception, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Pregnancy, Male & Female Interaction, Puberty, and Menopause. Refugee and asylum seeker support agencies can request a session HERE


Caring Communities: Rural refugee women's sexual health and well being

The Caring Communities project aimed to establish and embed a culturally responsive sexual and reproductive health service system and educative program for newly arrived refugee and migrant women in Shepparton and Cobram. Some of the key findings included the need for sensitive sexual health education in the women’s preferred language, the value of peer support and group programs, and the vital role that advocates play in encouraging and supporting women to attend education and clinical services. Read the report HERE


Female genital cutting/mutilation in regional Victoria: Research to practice

This project aimed to build evidence that could strengthen the capacity of service providers to meet the FGC-related health needs of women and girls in regional Victoria. The project engaged with community members and service providers in Ballarat, Geelong, Latrobe Valley and Shepparton to explore community and service provider knowledge, attitudes, needs and experience in relation to FGC; capacity of service providers to meet community needs; and strategies for building regional service providers’ capacity to provide FGC-related care to women from affected communities in regional Australia. Read the report HERE


Multilingual sexual and reproductive health resources

Health Translations Directory

Health Translations Directory includes links to multilingual sexual and reproductive health resources published by government departments, peak health bodies, hospitals, and community health and welfare organisations in a range of community languages. Access the resources HERE


The National Education Toolkit for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting Awareness
The NETFA project is specifically focused on raising awareness from within communities about the negative consequences of FGM/C. The Toolkit includes:

  • NETFA Best Practice Guide for Working with Communities Affected by FGM/C
  • NETFA Resource and Activity Guide for Working with Communities Affected by FGM/C
  • NETFA Literature Review: Best Practice Approaches to the Prevention and Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting
  • Links to FGM/C Information and Resources
  • Links to FGM/C support or education programs in your area

Access the Toolkit HERE


Starting conversations about female circumcision

This animated video aims to enhance service provision through improving the knowledge of FGM/C (and related health impacts) and supporting health professionals to communicate with their clients about FGM/C. Watch the video and find more information HERE


Sexual health and blood-borne virus program planning toolkit

Western Australia Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Applied Research and Evaluation Network (SiREN)

This toolkit contains information, tools and quick links to assist practitioners in planning, implementing and evaluating health interventions that aim to reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and blood-borne viruses (BBVs) in priority population groups. Access the toolkit HERE


Contraceptive technologies and reproductive choice among immigrant women
Monash University, The Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, The Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health, Family Planning NSW

This project aimed to examine refugee and immigrant women’s knowledge and access to information about contraception; their access to sexual and reproductive health services; social, cultural and structural factors that influence women’s capacity to accept contraceptive technologies; and the impact of women’s decisions on their mental, physical, sexual and reproductive health, and on their intimate relationships. Read the project report HERE


Something for them: Meeting the support needs of same sex attracted, sex and gender diverse young people who are recently arrived, refugees or asylum seekers
GLHV@ARCSHS, Latrobe University

Something for them aims to better understand and address the unique experiences and needs of same sex attracted, sex and gender diverse young people who are recently arrived, refugees or seeking asylum in Australia. Read the report HERE


Sexual and Reproductive Health Data Report

Multicultural Women’s Health Australia

This national data report summarises the latest available data across a range of areas that impact on the sexual and reproductive health of refugee and migrant women. The data in this report has been obtained from a variety of sources ranging from national, population based studies to small community-based studies. The report may be accessed HERE


Sexual and Reproductive Health Training at your Workplace
The Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health can tailor a training program to the needs of your workplace to help your staff to understand and overcome specific challenges relating to their work with clients from diverse backgrounds. The training is delivered as a face-to-face workshop at your organisation or at a venue of your choice and at a time of your convenience.
Available training sessions include:



Multilingual appointment card update
Cancer Council Victoria (CCV) is collecting service provider feedback to help improve their multilingual printable appointment card.
The multilingual printable appointment card is a simple online tool that was developed to assist non-English speaking clients easily access their healthcare appointments and reduce failure to attend rates. The tool allows you to fill in your client's appointment details in English and print them in their preferred language. You can access the current tool HERE


Based on feedback received to date, CCV is investigating several updates to the tool to make it more user-friendly and helpful to your work. They have developed a survey outlining the potential changes that will help them determine which updates are most beneficial. You can contribute to the survey HERE


Beginning a Life in Australia booklet
Department of Social Services

The Beginning a Life in Australia booklet has recently been updated. The booklet provides settlement information and links to resources for newly arrived migrants, humanitarian entrants, their sponsors and service providers. The booklet is currently available in English, Arabic, Farsi/Persian, Tigrinya, and Vietnamese, with other languages to follow. Access the booklet HERE


Inclusive Organisations Good Practice Guide
Centre for Multicultural Youth

All organisations, not just those with a specialised focus on refugee or migrant communities, have a responsibility to ensure that young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds have access to the services and programs that all young people do. This guide provides a framework to improve engagement with young people and enhance good practice across services and programs. The framework includes eight good practice principles and a range of accompanying strategies. Access the guide HERE


Humanitarian Settlement Services Statistics
AMES Australia

AMES Australia publishes Humanitarian Settlement Services statistics (HSS) for Victoria on a quarterly basis. The latest statistics for the period 1 July – 30 September 2016, which include number of arrivals, family size, country of origin and settlement location, are available on the AMES Australia website HERE


Trauma Informed Care, Intervention & Treatment: Professional Self-Care for Vicarious Trauma
Mental health professionals treating traumatised patients are exposed to the risk of vicarious trauma. The therapist’s dual clinical responsibility is both patient-care and self-care, while at the same time sustaining awareness that both are exposed to re-traumatisation during the course of therapy. This seminar will update your clinical skills and theoretical understanding to recognise the symptoms of vicarious trauma.
Date: Wednesday 26 October 2016
Time: 3pm - 4pm (Seminar to commence at 3pm sharp, refreshments will be served following the seminar)
Venue: Michael Chamberlain Theatre, Aitkenhead Wing, St Vincent’s Hospital, Victoria Parade (Building E) 
Cost: FREE
Registrations: HERE


ECCV 2016 State-wide Conference - “The Next Generation of Multicultural Victoria”
This conference will lead public discussion on the changing face of multiculturalism in Victoria and generational transition, with people from different generations speaking on a vision for the future. Find the program HERE 
Date: Friday 11 November 2016
Time: 9am – 5pm
Venue: Mecure Convention Centre, 613 Main Road Ballarat
Costs: Private and Public Sector: $150 / person, ECCV members, Concession and Community Sector: $120 / person, Young Refugees, Other New Arrivals, Students: $75 / person
Register: HERE
Contact: Toula Elefsiniotis HERE or (03) 9349 4122


2016 Researchers for Asylum Seekers Conference
The deadline for submitting an abstract has been extended until October 19. Abstracts of 150-250 words (accompanied by a brief bio of 50 words or less) can be submitted to Dr Karen Block HERE. The conference spotlight is on "Child Refugees and Asylum Seekers" but submissions on other topics related to asylum seekers and refugees from all disciplinary backgrounds have also been accepted. 
Date: Thursday 17 November 2016
Time: 9am-5pm
Venue: Gryphon Gallery, 1888 Building, University of Melbourne
Cost: FREE with catering provided
Register: HERE


Save the Date - Falling through the gaps: destitution and need in migrant communities

Red Cross' 2017 Practitioner 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. Speaker details and an agenda will be available soon. Register now to save the date.
Date: Wednesday 22 March 2017
Time: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Venue: Melbourne Town Hall, 90-120 Swanston Street Melbourne
Register: HERE


About us

The Victorian Refugee Health Network (VRHN) brings together health, settlement and community services to be more accessible and responsive to the needs of people from refugee backgrounds and people seeking asylum. 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.