November 12, 2019

Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health Study Day

Northern Health hosted a Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health Study Day in October, and welcomed a range of expert speakers, both internal and external to our health service.

Jason Cirone, Northern Health Refugee and Asylum Seeker Working Group Chair, said the presentations covered topics on the latest settlement data in Whittlesea and Hume, local support services and access criteria, clinical information related to trauma informed care and paediatric, general medical issues and infectious diseases.

“We were very fortunate to have two presenters speak about their personal experiences as refugees. Kurdish refugee, Amir Abdi, spoke of his journey to Australia as a young totally blind man. He provided valuable insights on how we can engage sensitively with people with such profound disabilities and traumatic pasts,” he said.

Northern Health HMO, Dr Batool Albatat, spoke openly about her experiences as an asylum seeker from Iraq, of arriving in Australia as a child, with only part of her family.

“None spoke any English when they arrived. While she experienced discrimination at first, Batool now enjoys the multiculturalism and diversity of Northern Health,” Jason added.

The Northern Health Refugee and Asylum Seeker Working Group was proud to have organised the study day.

“This day was aimed at providing valuable insights into the personal journeys of refugees and asylum seekers, strengthening our partnerships with other refugee support agencies, and improving services and outcomes for this very vulnerable community,” Jason added.

DPV Health and AMES worker Natalie Henry, also a working group member, said the study day was a “great opportunity to explore and discuss the varied challenges faced by different refugees and asylum seekers, and to appreciate the diversity that is present in the northern catchment”.

Melbourne’s north has become home to many refugees and asylum seekers over the past 10 years. The City of Hume, in particular, receives the largest settlement of refugees than any other municipality in Victoria, with over 664 people moving to the local government area during the 2018-19 year.