e-Bulletin April 2011

News and Events

1. Network activity highlight. In the five year period from 1 July 2005 until 30 June 2010, 2,030 humanitarian entrants settled in rural and regional Victoria (DIAC Settlement database). Many rural & regional practitioners and services are active participants in Victorian Refugee Health Network working groups, forums and other activities. Over the last few years there have been two rural & regional refugee health roundtables and in 2009 the forum exploring Access to Specialist Services was well attened by rural & regional health services. Settlement of newly arriving Humanitarian entrants and support for asylum seekers in rural areas of Victoria continues to be a significant trend, encompassing both direct settlement and secondary movement from metropolitan and other areas.

In 2011 VRHN hope to continue to support rural and regional health service providers in their work with people from refugee backgrounds. VRHN is currently reviewing how this support is best offered; this review will include an online survey which will be disseminated later this month to rural service providers. Please feel free to contact Philippa Duell-Piening on (03) 9389 8909 or at if you would like to take part in this survey.


2. Refugee Health Series: for GPs, Refugee Health Nurses, practice nurses and interested practice managers. The Northern Division of General Practice, the Dandenong Casey General Practice Association, Pivot West and Foundation House invite you to participate in this second refugee health series, which builds on the series from 2010. Five sessions will be offered. Category one ALM points applied for GPs and will be awarded to those who attend three or more sessions; and category two points available for single sessions. The first forum with Dr Ida Kaplan on Thursday 12 May will address Working with Refugees with Entrenched Grief. At Foundation House, 6 Gardiner St, Brunswick, 7.15 – 9.15 pm (light meal from 6.45pm). Registration is essential as places are limited.

3. African Dads and Kids camp. Centacare Catholic Family Services Melbourne
are inviting African fathers to bring along one of their children between the ages of 7-16 for one of two free camp experiences in May 2011. The focus of these adventures is to explore the differences and similaries between being a parent in Australia and a parent in Africa. The camps may also include some or all of the following activities: canoeing, bushwalks, beach visits, horseriding, fun challenges and experiential learning. Please phone Kate McKernin 0418 446 692 or email for more information.

4. Women’s health information sessions for African women. Women’s Health West in partnership with New Hope Foundation are running Women’s Health Information Sessions for African women as part of the Family and Reproductive Rights Education Program (FARREP). The sessions will be held on the third Wednesday of each month from 2.00pm – 3.00pm (starting 20 April) at New Hope Foundation, 21 Victoria Street, Footscray. For more information contact Heidi on (03) 9687 4500 or to RSVP contact Shukria on (03) 9689 9588 or email


5. Humanitarian Settlement Services fact sheet. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has released a fact sheet outlining the new Humantarian Settlement Services and a media release from Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Senator Kate Lundy announcing new settlement providers. Click here to see the fact sheet, click here to see the media release. In Victoria, referral pathways for Torture and Trauma counselling services remain the same. Further information about Torture and Trauma counselling services will be included in the May E-Bulletin.

Professional Development

6. Foundation House’s Course for counsellors. This two day course run by Foundation House provides counsellors with additional skills for working with refugee survivors of torture and trauma. It is suitable for people who are currently working with refugee survivors in a counselling capacity including psychologies, social workers, counsellors, domestic violence and drug and alcohol workers. On Thursday 9th & 16 June from 9.30am – 4.00pm at Foundation House, 6 Gardiner Street, Brunswick. For registration enquiries phone Georgia (03) 9389 8914 or email

7. Transcultural Psychiatry Seminar Program. The Victorian Transcultural Psychiatry Unit (VTPU) is a statewide unit which supports area mental health and psychiatric disability support services in working with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people throughout Victoria. VTPU is running a monthly seminar and case presentation program in 2011 covering topics such as the mental health issues of children in detention and theraputic approaches for working with people who have experienced trauma. To receive updates on VTPU activities and seminars you can register for their mailing list on the website homepage, or for more information contact Kate Fagnani (03) 9288 3300 or email

Research / Reports

8. Report on refugee young people and homelessness. The Centre for Multicultural Youth has released a report called “Finding Home in Victoria” which highlights the circumstances of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds that make them particularly vulnerable to homelessness. It explores changes required at the resource and service provision levels and makes a series of recommendations for a way forward. Click here to download a copy of the report.

9. Carolan, M. & Cassar, L. (2010). Antenatal care perceptions of pregnant African women attending maternity services in Melbourne, Australia. Midwifery, 26 (2), 189-201. This research paper details findings from qualitative in-depth interviews with 18 African-born women who were attending the African Women’s Clinic located in Melbourne’s western suburbs. The researchers conclude that while the African population in Melbourne is not homogenous, all women interviewed progress through phases of adjustment.

10. Tempany, M. (2009). What research tells us about the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of Sudanese refugees: A literature review. Transcultural Psychiatry, 46 (2), 300-315. This literature review highlights high rates of psychopathology, particularly PTSD and depression, among the Australian Sudanese community. However, while many Sudanese refugees have symptoms of traumatic stress their functioning was not necessarily reduced. Participants often reported more concern with current stresses such as family problems than past trauma.