An innovative program which helps refugees get a healthy start in their communities is being expanded across Victoria Gayle Tierney, Member for Western Victoria said today.
The Brumby Government will spend an extra $3 million on the Refugee Health Nurse program, expanding it in to areas with growing refugee communities.
The funding boost is in addition to the $1 million per year already dedicated by the Brumby Government for refugee health nurses.
Announcing the funding boost on Friday at the Latrobe Community Health Service, Health Minister Daniel Andrews said the expanded program will include a nurse working three days a week in the Latrobe Valley and Bass Coast Shire, as well as supporting nurses in Maroondah, Geelong, Wyndham, Castlemaine and Colac.
Mr Andrews said more than a dozen nurses already work with refugee families through community health services in areas with large refugee communities including Brimbank, Greater Dandenong, Hume, Maribyrnong, Moonee Valley, Melbourne, Darebin, Shepparton, Warrnambool and Ballarat.
Ms Tierney said the Brumby Government is taking action to deliver quality health services for all Victorians.
“The Refugee Health Nurse program commenced in 2005 with nurses in areas with high numbers of newly-arrived refugees, and was then expanded to cover more communities” she said.
“The extra funding in this year’s State Budget recognises that a flexible service is needed to respond to changing refugee settlement patterns over time.
“The program focuses on an early assessment of the health status of the families, assisting and referring them where required to other health agencies and programs.
“The nurses also work with GPs and community health services to help them best respond to the health and wellbeing needs of the refugees.
“It is important to link refugees in to community-based health services, as many of these families have health needs which need to be addressed as a result of the lifestyles they lived before arriving in Australia,” she said.
“The extra funding would include $87,500 for interpreting and other language services to help the nurses and health services communicate with the new clients Ms Tierney said.
“$20,000 per annum for three years will also be provided to The Foundation House for the Survivors of Torture to provide refugee health specialist training. Western Region Health will also receive $20,000 per annum for three years to provide secondary consultations.
Ms Tierney said the program has been successful in improving the response of the primary health care sector in meeting the needs of newly arrived refugees and has also made a contribution to reducing health inequalities for some of the most vulnerable members of the Victorian community.