Refugee and Immigrant Health

“When refugee families are assisted to settle, address their health issues, go to school and resume normal family life in a safe place, they do remarkably well. Meeting and working with them is deeply inspiring.” Dr Karen Zwi, Chair of the previous RACP Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health Working Party.

This document has been curated by Fellows of the RACP to help you find high quality CPD resources on refugee and immigrant health.

Resources are categorised by type:

  1. Key organisations & websites
  2. Webcasts
  3. Courses
  4. Tools
  5. Key journals
  6. Recommended reading

Learn about refugee and immigrant health

Each year, thousands of people who have experienced persecution or other serious human rights abuses settle in Australia. Common refugee experiences include forced migration and displacement, torture and/or trauma, war or civil unrest, the loss of and separation from family and friends, and prolonged periods of deprivation (source www.swslhd.nsw.gov.au/refugee).

Immigrants who settle in Australia, even if they haven’t experienced traumatic events, may have been exposed to distressing events related to the decision (or the necessity) to migrate. These experiences can have major implications on their health status and the delivery of health care.

Understanding practical implications of these traumatic experiences for health specialists is important, especially for physicians working in geographical areas with significant numbers of refugee and immigrant families.

Short on time? Try this:

1. Key Organisations & Websites

Useful as a starting point and overview of current work in this area

CPD tipCPD TIP:  Don’t forget to claim CPD credits for any learning from these websites. Download the current MyCPD Framework here. 

  • Refugee Council of Australia
    The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is a non-profit, non-government organisation with more than 200 organisational and over 900 individual members who support refugees. They offer a wide range of resources, including statistics, fact sheets, selected publications, and educational tools, on refugee health.

  • Refugee Council of New Zealand
    The Refugee Council of New Zealand (RCNZ) is a national organisation with a strong focus on providing a strategic response to the needs of refugees, working in conjunction with other local and international institutions. It also provides information and assistance to refugees in New Zealand to facilitate their participation at all levels in the community.

  • Refugee Health NZ
    Refugee Health is an initiative of the Auckland Regional Public Health Service. It provides various resources on refugee health for health professionals, including training courses, useful links, publications, and factsheets.

  • RACGP
    The RACGP offers a collection of resources for those with an interest in Refugee and Migrant health with various subject areas of interest, PubMed collections and useful links to resources from the National Academy of Science.

  • NSW Refugee Health Service
    The NSW Refugee Health Service is part of the NSW Department of Health. It aims to promote the health of people from a refugee background and assist the health professionals who work with them.

  • The Victorian Refugee Health Network
    The Victorian Refugee Health Network facilitates collaboration amongst health and community services in Victoria to respond to health issues related to people of refugee backgrounds, to support health promotion and accessible services and to improve service coordination for those with complex needs. The website provides resources on refugee health for health professionals, including fact sheets, policy and research.

  • The Refugee Health Service at Princess Margaret Hospital - WA
    The clinic coordinates health care services in WA for resettled refugee and asylum seeker children under 16 years of age to meet their medical, developmental, educational and psychosocial needs.

  • The Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health - Victoria
    The Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health aims to improve the health and well-being of people from refugee and migrant backgrounds who resettle in Australia. Their focus is on cultural competence, health literacy, and infectious disease awareness.

  • The Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma
    The Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT) is a network of Australia’s eight specialist rehabilitation agencies that work with survivors of torture and trauma who have arrived in Australia as refugees or humanitarian entrants. There is one FASSTT member agency in each state and territory of Australia, as per the following list.

  • Companion House – ACT
    Companion House is a non-government community based organisation that supports adults and children who have suffered from persecution, torture and war related trauma. They also provide resources for health care practitioners and customised training programs focused on refugee issues.

  • NSW Service for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors - NSW
    The NSW Service for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) is a non-profit organisation that specifically provides a range of treatment, rehabilitation and recovery support for refugee survivors of torture and trauma across Australia. It also offers training, resources, research and services to health professionals, educational institutions and volunteer groups to work more effectively with refugees.

  • Melaleuca - NT
    Melaleuca Refugee Centre Torture Trauma Survivors Service is a community–controlled, not–for–profit association. The Centre provides support for the resettlement of refugee survivors of torture and trauma and their families. It promotes community awareness and activities focused on refugee survivors’ issues, involving individuals, families, organisations and the wider community in NT.

  • Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma - QLD
    The Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT) provides services to promote the health and well-being of people who have suffered refugee related trauma, including a calendar of face to face workshops on torture and trauma survivors’ issues.

  • Survivors of Torture and Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation Service - SA
    The Survivors of Torture and Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation Service (STTARS) is a non-government, not for profit organisation who assists people from a refugee and migrant background who have experienced torture and trauma. Their services include counselling, child and youth programs, education and training.z

  • The Phoenix Centre - TAS
    The Phoenix Centre offers specialist services including counselling, advocacy and community development programs to survivors of torture and trauma as well as face to face workshops on a vast range of Cultural Awareness topics.

  • Foundation House - Victoria
    The Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc. (also known as Foundation House) is a non-aligned not-for-profit organisation which works with refugees in Victoria. It focuses on offering assistance to refugees who survived traumatic events and torture, and on providing education, research, and policy support to health, education and other community service providers.

  • Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors - WA The Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors (ASeTTS) provides services to people who have experienced torture or trauma in their country of origin, during their travel to Australia, or while in detention. It offers professional development for people working with refugees and asylum seekers in WA, and a wide range of resources, including, fact sheets, statistics, publications and reports.

  • Asylum Seeker Resource Centre – Victoria
    The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) is an independent organisation responsive to the needs of asylum seekers in Australia. The Centre works in conjunction with the community to promote social justice and human rights advocacy. Its website offers a wide range of resources, including fact sheets, statistics, publications and reports.

2. Webcasts

Useful for brief overviews of topics and recent developments

CPD tipCPD tip: Don’t forget to claim CPD credits for any learning from these webcasts in Category 5 (1 credit/hr). Download the current MyCPD Framework here.

3. Courses

Useful for in depth, structured learning

CPD tipCPD tip: Don’t forget to claim CPD credits for any learning from these events and courses. Download the current MyCPD Framework here. 

  • Professional development programs on refugee and immigrant health
    Foundation House Professional and Organisational Development offers a resident calendar of face to face training courses, seminars and workshops, as well as online webinars, on specific matters related to refugee and immigrant health, including mental health, refugee health assessment in children, and the refugee and asylum seeker experience.

  • Courses on violence prevention and peace building for health professionals
    Medical Peace Work is an international network of medical organizations and teaching institutions. It offers online introduction courses on violence prevention and peace building for doctors, nurses and other health professionals who want to broaden their understanding of refugees’ contexts and how doctors can help. It also hosts a list of external courses, many of which are online or in various locations Australia.

  • Training courses on globalisation and population’s health
    The People's Open Access Education Initiative (Peoples-uni) has been established by to host Open Online Courses on the impact of globalisation on population’s health. It offers numerous courses on global health matters, human rights and public health.

4. Tools

Useful for implementing what you have learned in your daily practice

CPD tipCPD tip: Don’t forget to claim CPD credits for any learning from these tools. Download the current MyCPD Framework here. 

  • Refugee Servicing Network
    The Australian Government Department of Human Services provides a refugee servicing network to assist refugees arriving in Australia in relation to financial support, health services and English language programs.

  • FAQs sheet on MBS
    The Australian Government Department of Health provides a useful FAQs sheet for GPs on Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and health assessment for refugees and other humanitarian entrants.

  • Refugee Health Clinic at Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre (MRRC)
    The Auckland Regional Public Health Service Refugee Health Clinic at the MRRC is the New Zealand Refugee Health Screening Centre that provides screening and healthcare for all ‘quota’ refugees and asylum seekers.

  • TIS National
    The Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) is provided by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and offers access to interpreters speaking more than 160 languages. The service is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year for the cost of a local call.

  • Facts and figures on refugees
    FASSTT (The Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma) is a not-for-profit organisation funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health that provides a useful factsheet webpage on torture and trauma survivors.

  • The Health Translations Directory
    The Health Translations Directory is an initiative of the Victorian Government. It helps health practitioners find translated health information for culturally and linguistically diverse patients and communities.

  • Appointment Reminder Translation Tool
    This tool from the NSW Refugee Health Service allows you to translate appointment details into your patient’s language.

  • NSW Refugee Health Service: fact sheets
    NSW Health offers a webpage with useful links on a range of refugee and immigrant health matters.

  • RCH Immigrant health guidelines
    The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne offers multiple paediatric refugee health guidelines, including catch-up immunisation in refugees, age assessment, developmental review, and guidelines on vitamin D, nutrition, and communicable diseases, as well as summaries of healthcare access for asylum seekers.

  • Health care of refugee women
    This SA resource provides a simple approach to the health assessment and management of refugee women, taking into account specific issues related to migration and resettlement.

  • Health assessment service in WA
    The Humanitarian Entrant Health Service (HEHS) provides a comprehensive health assessment service to all refugees and humanitarian entrants who are resettled in Western Australia.

  • Easidose
    This tool allows to provide picture-based medication instructions to facilitate safe prescribing to address language and literacy barriers.

5. Key Journals

Useful for keeping up to date with research and finding out more on specific topics

CPD tipCPD tip: Don’t forget to claim CPD credits for your time reading these journals in Category 5 (1 credit/hr). Download the current MyCPD Framework here. 

  • The Medical Journal of Australia
    This link provides a selection of MJA’s articles on refugee health.

  • The Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health
    The Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health is the official peer-reviewed journal of the Paediatrics & Child Health Division of the RACP. It covers a wide range of issues related to refugee children health.

  • The Journal of Refugee Studies
    The Journal of Refugee Studies is published in association with the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. It provides a forum for exploration of the complex problems of forced migration, including refugee and migration health.

  • Emerging Infectious Diseases
    Emerging Infectious Diseases is an open access journal published monthly by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta US.

6. Recommended Reading

Useful for keeping up to date with research and finding out more on specific topics

CPD tipCPD tip: Don’t forget to claim CPD credits for your time spent on these readings in Category 5 (1 credit/hr). Download the current MyCPD Framework here. 

  • ASID/RHeaNA clinical guidelines
    The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases and Refugee Health Network of Australia’s guidelines include recommendations for comprehensive post-arrival health assessment for people from refugee-like backgrounds. The guidelines are intended for healthcare providers, including general practitioners, refugee health nurses, refugee health specialists, Infectious Diseases (ID) physicians and other medical specialists.

  • RACP: Position Statement on Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health
    The Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ position statement addresses four key areas related to refugee and asylum seeker health: health assessments, access to healthcare, promoting long-term health in the community and asylum seekers in held detention.

  • RACP: Policy on Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health
    The Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ policy on refugee and asylum seeker provides an overview of the evidence used to develop the RACP position statement on refugee and asylum seeker health.

  • Refugee Health Care: A Handbook for Health Professionals
    This handbook, written in consultation with health professionals, refugee health experts and people from refugee backgrounds, discusses new refugee communities settled in New Zealand and emerging refugee health trends.

  • Foundation House: Promoting Refugee Health
    This guide provides a summary of major issues regarding care for people of refugee backgrounds. Advice and guidance are based on the practice experience and knowledge of a variety of health practitioners working with refugees.

  • Working with refugees, asylum seekers and new migrants
    This resource offers a concise overview of relevant recent patterns of immigration in New Zealand and addresses some of the issues that may affect refugees, asylum seekers, and new migrants.

  • NHRMC: Closing the gap in immunisation for migrants and refugees
    This 2013 report from the NHRMC Centre for Research Excellence in Population Health Research describes key immunisation issues and makes recommendations specific to migrants and refugees.

  • RCH Immigrant health clearing house on Australian refugee health research
    This page is intended as a clearing house for refugee health research in Australia. It includes published peer reviewed literature and links to the relevant PubMed, PsychInfo or ERIC (Education) abstract. Papers are presented by subject area and author.

  • NSW Health: publications on refugee health
    A selection of journal articles and publications on refugee health provided by NSW Health.

  • Queensland Health: Refugee Health and Wellbeing. A strategic framework
    A practical guide for healthcare professionals to improve the health and wellbeing of refugees.

Send Us Your Feedback:

RACP curated collections are managed by the Learning Support Unit, based on the contributions and peer review of Fellows of the College and other experts.

We thank the members of the RACP Working Party on Refugee Health and Asylum Seeker health for their contributions to the Refugee and Immigrant Health page.

Tell us what you think about this page and make suggestions for improvement by emailing myresources@racp.edu.au.  

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