e-Bulletin April 2012

1. The Minister for Health has announced that asylum seekers released from detention on a Bridging Visa E will have access to Medicare. The Department of Health is currently sending letters to relevant asylum seeker agencies to inform them of the process for a transition to Medicare support to clients recently released from detention on a Bridging Visa E (BVE). This follows the announcement that the long standing policy of granting Medicare eligibility to asylum seekers on Bridging Visas with work rights will be extended to those on the new Bridging Visa E. Medicare desk clerks and DIAC have been informed about the arrangements. Clients are being advised  (by letter) to attend a Medicare office with their original BVE grant letter, their PLO 56 and the additional letter advising of the new arrangement in order to enrol for their Medicare card. Red Cross caseworkers can assist with this process.

2. Foundation House invites your feedback on a discussion paper entitled ‘Exploring barriers and facilitators to the use of qualified interpreters in health’. This report arose in response to regular reports from Foundation House clients with low English proficiency that they were not being provided with a qualified interpreter when accessing health care in Victoria.  The purpose of the discussion paper is to summarise evidence regarding the importance of using qualified interpreters, their use in various health settings and the main barriers and facilitators to their use.  Foundation House is keen to receive feedback on the discussion paper by Monday the 21st May.  For a copy of the discussion paper visit https://refugeehealthnetwork.org.au/use-of-interpreters-discussion-paper/

3. Request for voluntary input into national refugee primary health care research project. Researchers from Monash University, UNSW, UQ, the University of Melbourne and the University of Ottowa have been commissioned to develop a framework for the coordinated delivery of primary healthcare services to refugee consumers in Australia.  The researchers would like to invite interested parties to share any literature (documents, websites, publications) relating to departments, programs or services relevant to this field. For more information contact I-Hao Cheng or Mark Harris

4. Update on Foundation House’s referral procedure: The Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (Foundation House) provides specialised torture and trauma counselling services to asylum seekers and people of refugee backgrounds. Referrals to Foundation House should be directed to the reception desk at Foundation House’s Brunswick office. The phone number is 9388 0022. The fax number is 9277 7871. Reception will email a referral form to the referrer which can be returned electronically or via fax. All referrals for clients in Community Detention need to be sent via fax to reception.

5. ‘Move It…You Know You Want To’: A Westside Circus initiative for young people from the City of Yarra Housing Estates. This initiative run uses circus skills and delicious food to promote healthy lifestyles. The workshops are free for young people aged 8-14 years who reside on the City of Yarra Housing Estates. Workshops run Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights throughout Term 2 and involve drama games, trust exercises, and circus skills such as acrobalance, juggling, hula hoop, human pyramids, tumbling, and rola bola. Young people involved increase their opportunities for self-esteem, physical activity and creative expression. For more information contact Samantha Cooper, Program Manager on (03) 9383 2299.


6. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre launches a practical, plain English website to assist asylum seekers navigate the refugee determination process. On Thursday April 12th, Julian Burnside launched the ‘Asylum Explained’ website, which explains the asylum process in Australia, as well as critical issues that asylum seekers may face at each step in the process. The website can be accessed here: www.asylumexplained.asrc.org.au

7. A reminder about some Australian and international refugee, asylum seeker and health e-Bulletins that you may want to subscribe to for updates:

Professional development

8. Victorian Refugee Health Forum for GPs and Primary Health Care Providers. Saturday 5th May, 9am-5pm at Foundation House in Brunswick. This exciting forum provides an opportunity for primary health care providers to learn more about topics relevant to refugee health care. The morning will comprise keynote addresses from Paris Aristotle (Direct, VFST) and Rob Grenfell (National Director, Clinical Issues, the Health Foundation of Australia) as well as a presentation from a woman of refugee background about the experiences of her community in Australia. The afternoon will be comprised of interactive workshops. Participants are eligible for GP CPD points, and CNE points.

9. Maternal and Child Health Forum: Increasing engagement with refugee families. Thursday May 17th 9:30am-3:30pm at Foundation House in Brunswick. This forum is for practitioners, coordinators, managers and policy makers who are interested in the innovative ways Maternal and Child Health services and early childhood services are engaging with refugee families.  The forum will be a mixture of research presentations and interactive workshops. For further information contact Philippa Duell-Piening on 9389 8909.


Please note that you may need a subscription to the relevant journal or database to access some of these research reports.

10. Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Immigration Detention Final Report (30 March 2012). This report summarises the key findings and recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Immigration Detention Network. The Committee has, since June 2011, accepted over 3,500 submissions and held site visits to several detention facilities. Chapter 4 describes the provision of health services to people in the immigration detention network and offers an appraisal of these services. The chapter concludes by noting that the most pressing concern for the Committee is the impact that detention has on the health of detainees, especially the impact on the mental health and wellbeing of detainees. To download a copy of the report visit: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=immigration_detention_ctte/immigration_detention/report/index.htm

11. Making it Home: Refugee Housing in Melbourne’s West. Based on the experiences of clients seen by the Footscray Community Legal Centre, this report details the disadvantage refugees face due to language and cultural barriers. Refugees face unfair evictions and loss of bond money and struggle to represent themselves when an issue arises. Refugees also struggle to access affordable housing and as a result are at an increased risk of homelessness. To download the report visit the Fitzroy Community Legal Centre website: http://www.footscrayclc.org.au/images/stories/Tenancy_Report.pdf