victorian refugee health network

~ August 2019 e-Bulletin ~

NEW REPORT: “We need to raise our voices”: Advice from people of refugee backgrounds living with disabilities and their carers

An exciting new report, ‘We need to raise our voices’: Advice from people of refugee backgrounds living with disabilities and their carers, was launched this week.

The Foundation House Disability Project Community Advisory Group was made up of people living with disabilities and their carers who had settled in the northern suburbs from Iraq and Syria in the last five years. This report details themes and advice from the group to improve services and systems for people from refugee backgrounds living with disabilities and their carers.

If the authorities don’t hear from us, they think everything is ok” (Community adviser)

I’m not just speaking for us. I’m speaking for any newly arrived person with a disability and the carers. If we have had this experience, they could have it too” (Community adviser)

The Community Advisory Group met nine times from May 2018 to March 2019. Early meetings were spent working together to identify shared priorities, barriers and facilitators to service use and build their own understanding of, and capacity to access, health, settlement and other services and supports. Later ‘dialogue meetings’ were attended by representatives from services including Brotherhood of St Laurence (the NDIS Local Area Coordinator), Spectrum, Office for Disability in the Department of Health and Human Services, Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV) and Carers Victoria.

The advice from the Community Advisory Group was shared throughout the project by community advisors, project facilitators and service providers who attended dialogue meetings. This included within the families and communities of the community advisors, in service provider networks and meetings, in a submission to the Victorian Government Disability Advocacy Futures consultation and at the Refugee Alternatives Conference 2019.

Read the report

The Foundation House Disability Project Community Advisory Group were finalists in the 2019 Victorian Disability Awards in the category of Excellence in Promoting Rights, Fairness and Safety. They were recognised for their work advocating to improve services and increase access, rights and participation of people from refugee backgrounds living with disabilities and their carers. Watch a short video that was made for the Awards:

For more information about the project, or to request a hardcopy of the report, contact Samantha Furneaux.

Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Early Childhood Engagement of CALD Communities

The Victorian Legislative Assembly Legal and Social Issues Committee (the Committee) is conducting an inquiry into early childhood engagement of CALD communities. For the purposes of the inquiry, early childhood refers to 0-8 years, and engagement could be with services such as health services, learning, childcare, family centres, kindergarten, play groups, sport and recreation and local libraries. The Committee is interested to hear from a broad range of groups and individuals, including families with young children from culturally diverse backgrounds.

For more information including Terms of Reference and translated information visit the inquiry website.

‘Medevac’: Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019

The Victorian Refugee Health Network undertook a submission to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry on the Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019. Our submission opposes The Migration Amendment (Repairing Medical Transfers) Bill 2019 which seeks to repeal the legislation commonly known as ‘Medevac’. Our submission is based on the following grounds:

  • The duty of care of the Australian government to provide a sufficient standard of health care to refugees and people seeking asylum who were transferred to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Nauru under provisions in the Australian Migration Act.
  • The importance of independent oversight and public reporting on the health status and health services for the refugees and people seeking asylum who are subject to offshore processing.
  • The efficiency and effectiveness of the coordinated medical transfer process enabled by the Medevac law, which facilitates acutely unwell people receiving essential, at times lifesaving, medical care that is not available to them in regional processing countries.
  • Decisions relating to people’s health should be made by clinicians/doctors.

A number of Victorian Refugee Health Network member agencies also made submissions and/or have made public statements in support of the Medevac legislation, including the Network’s auspicing agency Foundation House.

Read the submissions

Read Foundation House’s public statement in support of the Medevac legislation

RURAL AND REGIONAL NEWS - Safer Pathways for Refugee and Immigrant Women Experiencing Family Violence in Ballarat

Ballarat Community Health Centre’s Safer Pathways project provides access to culturally appropriate support to refugee and immigrant women experiencing family violence. The project has been funded by the Department of Social Services (DSS) and aims to:

  • Empower women with knowledge and understanding of Australian laws, rights and cultural norms in relation to family violence and sexual assault.
  • Build capacity of service providers to identify and respond to family violence in refugee and immigrant communities, and understand referral pathways.
  • Support family violence and sexual assault services to provide culturally appropriate, respectful and flexible service responses when needed.

The project has recently produced a short video telling the story of two Ballarat women from refugee and migrant backgrounds, who were experiencing, and received help for, family violence. Watch the video here


People from refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds: an open access annotated bibliography
Refugee Education Special Interest Group
This open access annotated bibliography has been curated by a collective of scholars who share an interest in the impacts of forced migration on people from refugee, asylum seeking and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) migrant backgrounds. This bibliography offers a snapshot of some of the available literature that relates to the following areas of scholarly and practitioner interest:

  • Refugees and 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

Download the report

Stronger together: the impact of family separation on refugees and humanitarian migrants in Australia
OXFAM and Deloitte Access Economics
New economic modelling undertaken by Deloitte Access Economics for Oxfam found that increasing Australia's humanitarian intake from 18,750 in 2019–2020 to 44,000 by 2022–2023 would:

  • increase the size of the Australian economy by $37.7 billion in net present value terms over the next 50 years;
  • sustain on average an additional 35,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the Australian economy every year for the next 50 years; and
  • increase demand for Australian goods and services by $18.2 billion in net present value terms.

For this reason, this report calls on the Australian government to:

  • create a Humanitarian Family Reunion visa stream within the Refugee and Humanitarian Program, of 10,000 places annually, that is specifically designed to make it easier for refugees and humanitarian migrants to be reunited with their family members; and
  • progressively increase Australia’s overall Refugee and Humanitarian Program to 44,000 places by 2022–2023, inclusive of the Humanitarian Family Reunion visa stream, and with 22,000 places allocated to UNHCR-referred refugees.

Download the report

Disability in CALD Communities
Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health (CEH)
CEH have launched a new website, Disability in CALD Communities, to help service providers reach & connect with CALD communities and make their services more culturally and linguistically responsive.


Communicate Podcast with Jacinta Bongiorno, Settlement Health Coordinator

Jacinta Bongiorno shares her experience of working as a Refugee Health Nurse and Settlement Health Coordinator.

Listen to the podcast (Episode 5)


Hope for Harmony Forum
The 2019 Victorian Local Government Multicultural Issues Network (VLGMIN) Forum will be held on Thursday 26 September, in Bendigo. The theme of the forum is HOPE FOR HARMONY: promoting social cohesion while responding to racism at the local level, and will feature Nyadol Nyuon as keynote speaker. The forum will provide a safe environment where the local government sector can explore what works and what hasn't worked in addressing the racism in our communities.
When: Thursday 26 September, 8:30am – 4pm
Where: The Capitol, 50 View Street, Bendigo
Cost: $99
More information and tickets

Intersectionality 101
Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
Intersectionality 101 is an interactive three-hour workshop that introduces intersectionality as an effective concept and tool for community workers, health providers and policy-makers. This workshop is suitable for those with basic knowledge of intersectionality and want to ensure that their work promotes gender equality and social justice.
When: Tuesday 17 September, 9:30am – 12:30pm or Friday 20 September, 1pm – 4pm
Where: Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, Level 2, 134 Cambridge Street, Collingwood
Cost: $150 - $175
More information and registrations

Upcoming Foundation House training:


Seeking Asylum: Working with Prolonged Uncertainty
Explores the psychosocial realities of living with long term uncertainty for people from refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds.
When: Thursday 17 October, 9.30am - 4.30pm
Where: Foundation House Brunswick
Suitable for: People working asylum seekers and people from refugee backgrounds in situations of ongoing uncertainty.
Cost: $275
Register and more information

Incidental Counselling for Young People
An approach to working with young people from refugee backgrounds in a range of settings, for people not formally trained as counsellors
When: Thursday 24 and 31 October, 9.30am – 4.30pm
Where: Foundation House Brunswick
Suitable for: People who are not formally trained as counsellors but who work in roles with young people from refugee backgrounds where counselling skills may be needed.
Cost: $420
Register and more information

View the entire Foundation House training calendar 

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.