Two regions have developed useful mental health referral pathways for people from refugee backgrounds (including asylum seekers), these include:
Specialist services for refugees and asylum seekers
Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (Foundation House)
Statewide service with offices in Brunswick, Dandenong, Sunshine and Ringwood and rural partnerships that provides specialist service to people from refugee backgrounds (including asylum seekers) who have experiences torture and trauma. Referrals can be made via the Brunswick reception (03) 9388 0022. For further information visit Foundation House’s website.
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) counselling services
Statewide intake however office is based in Footscray. People who are community based asylum seekers are eligible for their service however they must become members of the Asylum Seeker Resource Center. For further information visit ASRC’s website or phone their reception on (03) 9326 6066.
Monash Health – Refugee Health Service
Monash Health Refugee Health Service offer an integrated service which includes access to counselling and mental health services. This specialist clinic is located at 122 Thomas Street, Dandenong. Fax referrals to: 9792 7759, General Enquiries 9792 8100. Further information may be found on the Monash Health Refugee Health Service webpage.
Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub
A Specialist Mental Health Service is available to people seeking asylum for mild to moderate mental health issues. There is psychiatry, psychology, mental health social work and mental health nursing. A case management approach is utilised, with some limited outreach available.
The clinic is located at 503 Sydney Road, Brunswick 3056.
General enquiries (03) 8388 7874. For more information see the Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub webpage.
Men’s Line telephone counselling
The MensLine started the Arabic Call Back Service in 2012 which offers up to six free 50 minute counselling sessions with the same counsellor. The Arabic Call Back Service provides culturally and linguistically appropriate support to men from Australia’s Arabic-speaking community. It is a confidential, non-judgemental service offering support for any type of emotional concern. The service currently operates during limited days and hours, including weekends. Appointments for the service, however, can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78.
Primary health care services
Community Health Counselling
Many community health services provide counselling services. Community health have funding to use interpreters and people from refugee background (including asylum seekers) have priority access to state government funded services. Refugee Health Nurses are based at community health services and may be able to support referrals to counselling, a contact list is here.
Primary mental health and early intervention teams
These teams support and enhance the capacity of primary care providers, especially general practitioners and community health services, to recognise and respond to mental disorders more effectively. They provide consultation, liaison, education and training services to primary care providers for both low and high prevalence disorders. The teams have a particular focus on disorders such as depression and anxiety, and also provide some short-term direct care treatment and assessment for these high prevalence disorders. To find the primary mental health team in your area visit Victoria’s Mental Health Services.
Tertiary mental health services
Area Mental Health Services (Clinical Support)
Adult specialist mental health services are aimed primarily at people with serious mental illness or mental disorder who have associated significant levels of disturbance and psychosocial disability due to their illness or disorder. Commonly these will be people with a diagnosis of a major mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, but will also include some people with other conditions such as severe personality disorder, severe anxiety disorder, or those who present in situational crisis that may lead to self-harm or inappropriate behaviour towards others. The distinguishing factor is the level of severity of the disturbance and impairment. Increasingly, adult mental health service consumers have more than one disorder, with drug and alcohol related disorders (dual diagnosis) being most prevalent. Often referral to these services is through a centralised phone triage.
To find the service in your area visit: http://health.vic.gov.au/mentalhealth/services/adult/index.htm
Mental Health Community Support Services (MHCSS) (Psychosocial Support)
The non-government mental health community support services sector is a core component of specialist mental health services complementing clinical mental health services. MHCSS’ are managed by non-government organisations and focus on addressing the impact of mental illness on a person’s daily activities and the social disadvantage resulting from illness. They work within a recovery and empowerment model to maximise people’s opportunities to live successfully in the community. Referral to these services are through a centralised phone triage.
For more information, go to the MHCSS reform website
To find the service in your area visit: http://health.vic.gov.au/mentalhealth/services/disability/index.htm
Mental Health Services that work with children and adolescents
Royal Children’s Hospital Mental Health Resources and Services
The Royal Children’s Hospital Immigrant Health Clinic has a comprehensive list of mental health services and resources for children and young people you can visit their site by following this link: http://www.rch.org.au/immigranthealth/resources.cfm?doc_id=13068#
Other specialist mental health services
Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA)
Central Referral Line: 1800 806 292/Statewide website CASA forum: www.casa.org.au
Bouverie Family Counselling
Phone: (03) 9385 5100/ Website: www.bouverie.org.au/services-families/general-information-referrers
Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH)
Secondary consultation and resources, not direct service. Phone: (03) 9288 3300/ Website: http://www.vtmh.org.au/
VTMH have a webpage with links to bilingual clinician directories: http://www.vtmh.org.au/resources/bilingual-clinicians
Mother and Baby Units
Austin Hospital (Heidelberg) Phone: (03) 9496 6407
Monash Medical Centre (Clayton) Phone: (03) 9594 1414
Werribee Mercy Hospital Phone: (03) 9216 8465
Dual Disability Services (Intellectual Disability and Mental Illness)
Victorian Dual Disability Service (Fitzroy) Phone: (03) 9288 2950/Email:
Secondary consultation not direct service.
Dual Diagnosis Services (Alcohol and Other Drugs and Mental Illness)
For a directory of services that work with people who have a dual diagnosis visit: http://www.dualdiagnosis.org.au/home/index.php?option=com_contact&catid=24&Itemid=3
Community Brain Disorders Assessments and Treatment Service (CBDATS)
Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre (Kew) Phone: (03) 9490 7366
Carer support agencies
Young carer’s agencies
Other psychosocial support programs
Personal Helpers and Mentor
The Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) service:
- aims to provide increased opportunities for recovery for people whose lives are severely affected by mental illness
- takes a strengths-based, recovery approach, and
- assists people aged 16 years and over whose ability to manage their daily activities and to live independently in the community is impacted because of a severe mental illness.
For further information about this program and details of service providers visit: http://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/mental-health/programs-services/personal-helpers-and-mentors-phams
Public mental health services have policies about using interpreters with clients who have low English proficiency which may be found here: http://health.vic.gov.au/mentalhealth/pmc/language.htm
Many of the Medicare funded counselling services are not suitable for people with low English proficiency as they do not have interpreter funding. The notable exceptions to this are: