victorian refugee health network

~ September 2018 e-Bulletin ~

Photo: Zia Ibrahimi and two members of the Sunraysia Community Health Services Kitchen Garden Group (used with permission)

Sunraysia Community Health Services Kitchen Garden Program

We caught up with Zia Ibrahimi, Refugee Health Access Worker at Sunraysia Community Health Services, for a chat about the Sunraysia Community Health Services Kitchen Garden Program.


The Kitchen Garden Program was initially formed as a way to help newly arrived men from refugee backgrounds settle into life in Australia. It provides a space for men from refugee backgrounds to socialise and form connections while learning about growing vegetables and preparing healthy meals. The group meets once a week, and take it in turns tending to the garden or preparing lunch and then come together for a shared meal. By connecting newly arrived men with men from refugee backgrounds who have lived in Australia for many years, the Kitchen Garden Program enables the group to learn from one another and reduces social isolation.


The Kitchen Garden Program also has a capacity building element, often featuring guest speakers including refugee health nurses, local police officers, Country Fire Authority members and Legal Aid representatives to familiarise the group with services available in the local community and to help orient them to life in Australia.

Bicultural brilliance toolkit launch

On Tuesday 28 August, enliven in partnership with Department of Health and Human Services, Monash Health Refugee Health and Wellbeing, South East Community Links and Red Cross launched ‘Bicultural Brilliance – a toolkit for working with and as Bicultural Workers.’

To kick off the initiative, the working group hosted a forum on 23 May with over 50 workers and volunteers from different cultural backgrounds about their experiences of being a bicultural worker. Attendees were asked what they would like to see in the future of bicultural work – what works well, what needs to change, where can we start? This was collated and then presented to almost 30 managers and representatives from local organisations at the second forum on 19 June. Attendees at this forum were then also asked to contribute from their alternative perspective.

What came from this was a guide which has tips, recommendations, strategies, templates, tools and resources; that directly reference what both groups highlighted as important. This resource supports the development of a shared understanding of ‘bicultural work’ as a practice, and brings everyone onto the same page in terms of what we expect from each other. Examples of things that we can all start doing today to improve practice are also included in the resource.


For more information or to request a copy of the toolkit please contact Yvette Shaw

Cancer screening grants for underscreened communities 2018 – 2019 applications now open!

Each year, Cancer Council Victoria run a project to provide funding to underscreened priority community organisations and health services to increase cancer screening participation for underscreened communities.

This year, priority will be given to projects focusing on:

  • Bowel cancer screening for men
  • Cervical cancer screening for people with a cervix
  • Cervical cancer screening for women who have experienced female genital cutting

Applications close 24 October 2018. More information about the grants

National Multicultural Mental Health Project

Mental Health Australia have partnered with the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council of Australia (FECCA) and the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) to deliver the National Multicultural Mental Health Project. This project will provide a national focus on mental health and suicide prevention for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

The key objectives of the project are to:

  • Increase participation of consumers and carers from CALD backgrounds in mental health services,
  • Improve outcomes for CALD mental health consumers, carers and their families,
  • Increase mental health awareness, knowledge and capacity in CALD communities, and
  • Improve cultural responsiveness and diversity of the mental health workforce.

Find out more about the project

Congratulations to the Foundation House Early Years Program!

Photo: L - R Donna Chesters, Jo Macfarlane, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria, and Kathy Cooney at the Victorian Multicultural Awards for Excellence


The Victorian Refugee Health Network would like to congratulate the Foundation House Early Years program on their receipt of a Victorian Multicultural Award for Excellence in the Education and Early Years category for their work on the Craigieburn Refugee Early Years Project. The Craigieburn Refugee Early Years Project is a collaboration between the Foundation House Early Years Program, Hume City Council and ten early years agencies in Craigieburn. Working with a community advisory group, the project aims to build the capacity of early childhood educators to provide inclusive learning environments to newly arrived people from refugee backgrounds.


More information about the Victorian Multicultural Awards for Excellence and the Foundation House Early Years Program


Factsheet: Interpreters and the NDIS 

Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health
This fact sheet helps clarify when interpreting services are funded by the NDIA for people with a disability and English language needs.
View the resource


Australia’s man-made crisis on Nauru: Six years on
Refugee Council of Australia and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
This report documents the deteriorating mental and physical health of people in offshore detention in Nauru.
Read the report


Tamil and Afghan Community Strengthening Projects 2016 - 2018: Final report

This report provides an overview of the Afghan and Tamil Community Strengthening Projects delivered by enliven between November 2016 and June 2018. The projects aimed to deliver place-based interventions from within the Afghan and Tamil communities in south eastern Melbourne. Activities were designed to strengthen community capacity to live healthy, happy and socially connected lives.
Read the report


Understanding the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for interpreters of Afghan languages
Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health
This free, two-hour workshop will take participants through NDIS language and concepts and give them the opportunity to translate these into their own language in a way that they feel is most accurate. We will also discuss cultural understandings of disability. Upon completion of the workshop participants will be able to apply for 10 professional development points from NAATI.
When: Thursday, 4 October 2018, 4pm – 6pm
Where: Jan Wilson Community Centre, Halton Road, Noble Park North
Cost: Free
More information and register


Incidental Counselling with Young People

Foundation House

This two day course includes: Incidental counselling skills for a range of situations in working with young people from refugee backgrounds; examination of the impact of past and current trauma for young people; building good working relationships with young people with trauma histories; cross cultural considerations.
When:  Thursday 18 and Friday 19 October; 9.30am - 4.30pm
Where: Foundation House, 4 Gardiner Street, Brunswick
Cost: $380
Suitable for: People not formally trained as counsellors
More information and register


Multicultural Sexual Health Network Forum: Sexual Health of People from Refugee and Migrant Backgrounds in Sunraysia

Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health and the Multicultural Sexual Health Network

The purpose of this forum is to empower workers with tools to discuss sexual health and sexuality with young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds.
This forum is suitable for: School nurses, teachers, youth workers, community workers, settlement services, community groups, NGOs and anyone working with young people.
When: Wednesday, October 24 2018, 1.15pm – 5pm
Where: Sunraysia Community Health Services, 137 Thirteenth St, Mildura
Cost: Free
More information and register


African Australians Settlement & Integration 2030: Opportunities and challenges conference

The African Think Tank
This Conference will look at African Australians’ position in the ways of protecting and strengthening Australia’s multiculturalism and social inclusion. Conference themes include:

  • economic opportunities: business, employment and training
  • settlement and integration: resettlement, case management, inclusion, and empowerment
  • education: schooling, interrupted education, qualifications and languages
  • family, youth disengagement, policing, family violence, law and order
  • leadership: community capacity building, cohesion and the importance of leadership
  • health, wellbeing and ageing.

When: 12 – 13 November 2018
Where: University of Melbourne, 185 Pelham Street, Parkville
More information and register


Refugee and Asylum Seeking Experiences: Working with Children & Families

Foundation House
A comprehensive introduction to working with children and families from refugee backgrounds. Includes: an overview of experiences of people who have fled wars and oppressive regimes; an outline of Australia's humanitarian program within a global context; psychosocial effects of traumatic experiences on children, families and communities; Foundation House Framework for Recovery; reflections on how we understand 'culture'; the impact of the work.
When: Thursday, 15 November 2018, 9.30am - 4.30pm
Where: Foundation House, Level 4, 61 Riggall Street, Dallas
Cost: $250
Suitable for: Anyone working with or likely to work with families from refugee background
More information and register


Trauma, Identity & Gender
Foundation House
Includes: concepts of gender and identity in the context of pre-arrival and settlement experiences for people from refugee backgrounds; key concepts and terms and use of language; pre arrival experiences of persecution, violence and displacement through the lens of gender, and the consequent impact on health, wellbeing and identity; challenges and opportunities for clients and workers; assumptions and perspectives on gender within and across cultures.
When: Thursday, 22 November 2018, 9.30am - 4.30pm
Where: Foundation House, 4 Gardiner Street, Brunswick
Cost: $250
Suitable for: anyone working with people from refugee backgrounds
Prerequisite: participants should have completed an introductory Foundation House workshop or have considerable experience working with people from refugee background.
More information and register

Registrations close 19 October

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.