victorian refugee health network

~ July 2018 e-Bulletin ~

Focus on Disability

The Network is excited to launch a new report 'Service responses for people with disabilities from refugee backgrounds in northern Melbourne' in this issue. To celebrate some of the terrific work happening in this space we've compiled a special disability themed e-Bulletin.


Image: The Picture Communication Symbols © 1981-2010 by Tobii Dynavox. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Used with permission from Scope (Aust) Ltd.

Image: The Picture Communication Symbols © 1981-2010 by Tobii Dynavox. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Used with permission from Scope (Aust) Ltd.

New Report: Service responses for people with disabilities from refugee backgrounds in northern Melbourne

As part of the Absolutely everyone: State disability plan 2017–2020 the Victorian Government funded the Victorian Refugee Health Network ‘to complete a needs assessment of the responsiveness of the disability and refugee health service system in northern Melbourne’ (p28). This report details the outcomes of the needs assessment and makes 33 recommendations for service and policy changes and future activities to improve service responsiveness.

Read the full report (English and Easy English)

Disability focus: exciting projects and programs

Image: ECCV NDIS information session

ECCV is supporting CALD consumers to access the NDIS

The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) is working to support culturally and linguistically diverse consumers, families and carers to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

They will be running information sessions across Victoria for people who want to know more about the NDIS and how it works, and are able to provide interpreters if they are required. They can visit small community groups, and tailor sessions for your needs. They recently ran a session for a Turkish women’s group in Brunswick, and the group was very interested to hear about the NDIS and how it can support people with disabilities. Please email if you are interested in finding out more about this, or are interested in having a session for your group.

ECCV is also running training programs for ethnic and multicultural organisations who are interested in becoming providers of NDIS services, on topics such as board governance and marketing and communications for the NDIS. If you’re interested in staying informed about upcoming training and events please email and ask to be added to their bulletin


Resettling in Victoria - advice from people from refugee backgrounds living with disabilities

Foundation House is undertaking a project that aims to better understand and document the experiences and service access issues for people from refugee backgrounds living with a disability. A community capacity building approach will be used to facilitate dialogue between people from refugee backgrounds with disabilities and relevant service providers, with the aim of developing joint understandings of the needs, priorities, barriers and enablers to service access for people from refugee backgrounds living with a disability. The project is based in northern Melbourne and will be recruiting Arabic speaking adults who are living with a disability or who are carers/parents of children (under 18) with disabilities who have arrived as humanitarian entrants within the past 5 years. 

Read the full project brief or for more information about the project including how to be involved please contact project worker Samantha Furneaux at or on 03 9389 8915.


Why it's important for interpreters to understand the NDIS

Interpreters decipher language to carry its meaning in a way that is both linguistically and culturally understandable, while taking into account the context of the person for whom they are translating.


The ability to transmit the meaning of concepts is essential to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Supported by funding from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH) has been running workshops for interpreters and translators in Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Karen, Chin, Turkish and Persian.

Regardless of their culture of origin, all workshop groups have shared their concern about how difficult concepts of individual empowerment, choice and control are in cultures that are more collectivist than individualistic. By putting forward their own needs, people of CALD backgrounds living with disability may be wary of appearing arrogant or selfish, or that their family may feel that they are rejecting them. Furthermore, given the level of discrimination they may have experienced prior to coming to Australia (particularly around intellectual disabilities), the idea that they can dream, have 'goals' and exercise 'choice and control' may be foreign; many meetings will be necessary before an NDIS plan can be discussed and developed.

This work requires NDIS planners to be aware of the cultural context of NDIS participants, and of the barriers that may limit their ability to participate in the scheme. Planners must also recognise that interpreters play a vital role in the development of plans. Interpreters need to be briefed properly in order to tailor their language to the person they are supporting, whether via phone or face-to-face. Knowing which stage of the NDIS pathway the person is at also helps them understand the context of the discussion and interpret in a way that is faithful to the English-speaker and can be understood in a way that is meaningful by the NDIS participant.

For questions about the project, contact Sophie Dutertre, Senior Project Officer at CEH at or on 9418 9911.
A full version of this article was published on the National Disability Services website on 15th May 2018.


New online community of practice

The Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health recently launched an online community of practice (CoP) to support disability providers develop more accessible and inclusive services for CALD communities as part of the transition to the NDIS.

The CoP provides a platform for agencies to explore challenges, collaborate and share ideas and strategies for developing culturally responsive practice and improving engagement with CALD groups. It is open to NDIS service providers, organisations working with CALD communities and Local Area Coordinators. To register, go to:


The Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH) professional development for NDIS providers

The Department of Health and Human Services has funded the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health to support NDIS providers in Victoria to engage with clients from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. CEH is delivering professional development on topics including recruiting and managing a diverse workforce and working across cultures with people with disability and their carers and helping providers to develop engagement strategies with CALD communities.

These services are free to registered NDIS providers, and disability agencies who are considering registering with the NDIS. For more information contact Sophie Dutertre at or on 03 9418 9911.


Interpreting support for NDIS participants
TIS National has partnered with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to provide interpreting services for NDIS participants from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. This service will support participants when connecting with registered service providers for funded supports in a participants plan. An NDIS Local Area Coordinator, NDIA Planner or Support Coordinator will support participants who require assistance accessing interpreting services though TIS National. A participant does not need to have interpreting supports listed as a funded support in their plan to access non-disability related interpreting services.

TIS National requires the NDIA registered service provider who is delivering the funded support to register for a TIS National client code and book an interpreter on behalf of the NDIS Participant. More information

Disability focus: selected resources

Translated disability fact sheets for communities

Amparo Advocacy
AMPARO Advocacy has produced two fact sheets to provide information to people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities about disability and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The Fact Sheets, Understanding Disability in Australia and What is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), have been translated into 33 community languages including Arabic, Amharic, Dari, Dinka, Farsi and Karen.


Glossary of NDIS Terms

Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health
A comprehensive glossary of NDIS and disability terms to assist practitioners, support workers, interpreters and CALD communities better understand concepts and meanings of terms. This glossary has been translated in Arabic, Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese. 

Culturally proficient service delivery
Centre for Applied Disability Research 
These Good Practice Guides, Practical Guide for Practice Leaders, and Good Practice for Frontline Staff, are for those who work alongside people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds with disability. They have been written to help frontline staff and practice leaders to develop culturally responsive, respectful and reflective practices in their work.

Disability focus: Upcoming events

NDIS Provider forum: Support coordination - Dandenong
This forum will cover the role of a Support Coordinator in:

  • Empowering and building a participants capacity
  • Supporting participants in understanding reasonable and necessary supports and budget flexibility
  • Delivering services that strengthen informal supports and connect participants with mainstream and community supports
  • Exploring Capacity Building Options to support participants in understanding and implementing their plan
  • Importance of support coordination reporting against outcomes and success indicators

This forum is limited to providers who are registered or interested in registering to deliver support coordination for participants living in the VIC Southern Melbourne region.
When: Monday, 6 August 2018, 9.30 AM – 11.30 AM
Where: Dandenong Civic Centre, Level 2, 225 Lonsdale Street, Dandenong, VIC 3175
More information and registrations


My NDIS Expo – Ringwood
My NDIS Expo is an opportunity for people to come and learn about the NDIS pathway or ask questions they have about the NDIS. With representatives from the National Disability Insurance Agency, Local Area Coordination (LAC) and Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) this expo aims to link people into right information from various parts of the Agency and/or Partners in the Community.
When: Monday, 13 August 2018, 10 AM – 2 PM
Where: Karralyka Centre, Mines Road, Ringwood
More information and registrations


NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention Forum – Sunshine
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) in partnership with Early Childhood Intervention Australia in conjunction with the Brotherhood of St Lawrence partner will be running community and provider forum sessions.
When: Wednesday, 22 August 2018, 10 AM – 12.30 PM
Where: Victoria University, Convention Centre, Auditorium, Sunshine Campus, Gate 1, 460 Ballarat Road, Sunshine
More information and registrations

Other news: SRSS reductions, TPV expiry & HAPlite

Reduction in support services for people seeking asylum
On the 1 May 2018 the Department of Home Affairs changed the criteria for income and case work support provided through Status Resolution Support Services. Over next months thousands of people seeking asylum will have their income and case work support ceased. The Refugee Council of Australia have prepared information about the changes including key dates: How cuts to support for people seeking asylum will affect people, states and local communities


Temporary Protection Visa expiry
Temporary Protection Visas (TPV) last up to 3 years. The first TPVs granted in 2015 have begun to expire. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has written to those people whose visas are due to expire to advise them they need to reapply. People who hold TPVs should keep their details up-to-date with DHA and seek legal advice before lodging their new application.


Health information transfer for new arrivals (HAPlite) – update

13 of the 15 Victorian Refugee Health Programs (RHPs) and Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub have access to the Department of Home Affairs HAPlite data base. General practice clinics can apply for access, and RHPs may wish to encourage that they do so.


Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP) providers now no longer have access to any health information (except when a person is on critical/potential health alert) and do not have any knowledge of ‘on arrival’ health needs.


A new process is currently being established between AMES Australia and Victorian RHPs to enable HSP case managers to receive relevant health information prior to a person’s arrival as follows:

  • the HAPlite number for each individual will be provided by HSP to the RHP in the area where a person is expected to settle
  • a refugee health nurse in the RHP will review the ‘pre arrival health information’ to identify any health issues that need to be addressed prior to, or on arrival, by the HSP case manager; a template has been developed to facilitate this process
  • RHPs will provide this information back to HSP in time for the case manager to address identified needs

AMES settlement services will discuss this process with its Victorian subcontractors; the intention is to have this process introduced across Victoria.


A ‘health contact’ in Victoria (likely to be a nominated group) is currently being established to receive critical alerts for Refugee and Humanitarian Programme arrivals from the Department of Home Affairs; this is a recent additional reporting mechanism (with notification to HSP from DSS to continue).

Rural and Regional: Khanuma and Bendigo Safe Haven Visits program

Khanuma women's group

Image: Khanuma women's group


Primary Care Connect’s ‘Khanuma’ project (Khanuma meaning ‘ladies’ in Dari) brings isolated Afghani women living in Shepparton together through the development of friendship and social connections. Through collective activities including lunches, excursions, yoga and art projects such as photography and ceramics the women have opportunities to share with each other their worries and concerns. The Khanuma group gives the women the opportunity to gain strength by sharing ideas, building wise strategies, supporting each other and having fun. The project has been funded by the Victorian Women’s Benevolent Trust with support from the Grosvenor Foundation.  
For more information about Primary Care Connect’s refugee services


Bendigo Safe Haven Visits Program

Rural Australians for Refugees Bendigo with support from Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services (LCMS) are inviting metropolitan SHEV-holders to visit Bendigo for 2-3 days to explore employment options in the area. The program includes free accommodation in the homes of Rural Australians for Refugees Bendigo members and opportunities to meet with SHEV and Employment Coordinators at LCMS. With advance notice contact with employers, real estate agents, schools, TAFE, and members of Bendigo’s multicultural community groups may also be facilitated.
For more information contact Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services at or on 03 5441 6644

Resources and reports

New translated resource – Your Guide to Breast Health
BreastScreen Queensland
“Your Guide to Breast Health” is an illustrated book which has been developed by the BreastScreen Queensland Brisbane Northside Service in collaboration with women from CALD backgrounds. The resource has been translated into eleven languages including Arabic, Burmese, Dari, Farsi

New translated resources – Asthma
Asthma Australia
Asthma Australia has new translated community resources including 10 ways to live well with asthma and Asthma: What your doctor needs to know. Languages include Arabic, Burmese, Dinka, Dari and Nepali

States of refuge: access to health, housing and education for people seeking asylum and refugees in Australia
Liberty Victoria’s Rights Advocacy Project
This report aims to show the ways in which state and territory governments might safeguard some of the rights of people seeking asylum and refugees. Over what has been nearly a year’s worth of research, RAP found that states and territories can have significant impact in certain key areas affecting people seeking asylum. Read the report

Recent changes in Australian refugee policy
Refugee Council of Australia
This brief summarises the many changes to Australia’s refugee and asylum policies in recent years. These changes have largely been a political response to the increase of people seeking asylum by boat and deaths at sea. Read the report

Training and events

General Practice Refugee Mental Health Forum – last chance to register!
The Victorian Refugee Health Network in partnership with North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network and South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network are hosting a one day forum of professional learning for general practice staff and mental health practitioners. The forum’s aim is to support practitioners to respond to the mental health needs of people from refugee backgrounds, including people seeking asylum.
When: Saturday, 4 August, 8.30AM – 5PM
Where: University of Melbourne
Cost: $70 + GST
More information and registrations


Call for papers: Contemporary Issues in Migrant and Refugee Health in Nursing
Contemporary Nurse Journal is publishing a special themed issue focusing all areas of research, theory, and policy dedicated to contemporary issues in migrant and refugee health in nursing.
Submissions of original research articles and policy articles on any aspect of health care for migrants and particularly refugees, and asylum seekers in the context of nursing are invited. Submissions close Friday August 31, 2018. More information including how to apply

FASSTT Conference call for abstracts – submissions close Friday August 3, 2018
The Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT) invites individuals and communities from refugee backgrounds, clinicians, practitioners, researchers, philosophers and policy makers to submit an abstract for the 2019 Australia and New Zealand Refugee Trauma Recovery in Resettlement Conference. More information and submissions


Foundation House August - September training
Introduction to Suicide Risk Assessment
This one day workshop, in partnership with Orygen, National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, is an introduction to the basic components of suicide risk assessment and how these apply to people from a refugee or asylum seeking background. Suitable for people who have not had training in suicide prevention previously and who work with people from refugee backgrounds, eg. caseworkers, bicultural workers, volunteers etc. More information and registrations
When: Thursday, 30 August 2018, 9.30 AM – 4.30 PM
Where: Foundation House, 4 Gardiner St, Brunswick
Cost: $250

Refugee and Asylum Seeker Experiences
This one day workshop provides a comprehensive introduction to working with people from refugee backgrounds. Participants will gain knowledge of the context and experiences of people from these backgrounds, and explore ways of working together. The workshop will also explore positive working relationships and maintaining worker resilience in a challenging environment. Suitable for anyone working with, or interested in working with, people from refugee backgrounds, e.g. settlement workers, youth workers, hospital staff, community workers, council workers, and people working in the justice sector. More information and registrations
When: Thursday, 6 September 2018, 9.30 AM – 4.30 PM
Where: Foundation House, 163 Harvester Rd, Sunshine
Cost: $250


View the full 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.