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.
Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Hub
The Hub’s specialist mental health service provides multi-disciplinary care for clients with mental health needs, including triage, psychiatric assessment and management, therapeutic intervention, counselling, referrals and ongoing support. This includes the following services:
- Psychiatry: Psychiatry consultants and registrars run clinics each week at the Hub. To use this service you must be referred by a GP.
- Counselling: Psychologists and mental health clinicians are available to provide ongoing therapeutic intervention.
- Care Coordination: referral, ongoing support and mental health care coordination is provided by our mental health clinicians as necessary.
- Secondary Consultation: secondary consultation to mental health clinicians, general practitioners and other health professionals working with people seeking asylum
The Hub’s specialist mental health service is available to people seeking asylum and other temporary or undocumented visa holders* in North West suburbs of Melbourne and the Victorian regional areas of Shepparton and Mildura. We prioritise those who are not eligible for Medicare or who have Medicare but no or low income.
* not available to support people on tourist or international student visas.
To refer, go to the Cabrini asylum seeker and refugee health hub download a referral form, call (03) 8388 7874 or email
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.
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 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)
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
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: