An asylum seeker is someone who has applied for refugee status and is waiting for a decision (for further information see Asylum seeker health info sheet).
Many asylum seekers living in the community are eligible for Medicare, although some asylum seekers and some service providers may not be aware of this. Medicare ineligible asylum seekers are provided access to state funded health services, ambulance and public oral health care services via a Victorian Department of Health policy, however there continues to be difficulties accessing these services in some areas.
Asylum seekers who are in detention facilities or in Community Detention programs are not eligible for Medicare. Their medical care is arranged by the International Health and Medical Services (IHMS).
Many asylum seekers are supported by case workers from Status Resolution Support Services provider (AMES, Australian Red Cross and Life without barriers trading as National Immigration Support Services) or other asylum seeker support organisations like the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
There are many specialist community agencies that provide services for asylum seekers including housing, health care, material aid, legal advice and English-language tuition.
For a full list of agencies that provide assistance to asylum seekers see our asylum seekers health service referral page.
Many asylum seekers experience poor mental and physical health owing to:
- the stresses of uncertain migration status (i.e. not knowing when or if the government will recognise an application for protection)
- extended periods in detention which has proven deleterious effects on mental health
- past trauma and torture experiences.
Australian Red Cross
- Webpage: Migration Support
- Information sheet: Australian Red Cross Asylum Status Resolution Support Services Overview
- Frequently asked questions: Asylum Seekers: 13 things you should know
Department of Immigration
Victorian Refugee Health Network
- Webpage: Advice for Health Service Providers: Immigration Status Determination for Asylum Seekers advice
- Webpage: Case work support for asylum seekers
- Webpage: Income and material support for asylum seekers
- Webpage: Asylum seeker health services
- Webpage: Ambulance transport for asylum seekers in Victoria
- Information sheet: Asylum Seeker Information Sheet for Victorian Health Care Providers
- Webpage: Temporary Protection Visas
Royal Childrens Hospital Immigrant Health Clinic
Department of Human Services
Department of Health and Human Services
- Information sheet: Guide to asylum seeker access to health and community services in Victoria (Feb 2014)
- Information sheet: Fact sheet – Asylum Seekers: Access to services (April 2015)
- Factsheet: Guide to access to Victorian public health services by people living in community detention (Sept 2011)
- Information sheet: Immunisation in Community Detention
- Webpage: Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health
Public Transport Victoria
- Webpage: Asylum Seeker Concession Cards
Refugee Council of Australia
Refugee Advice and Casework Service
Victoria Legal Aid