Newcastle Refugee Health Service

Case Study Submitted by: Karinne Andrich
Country: Australia

The Refugee Outreach/CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse background) Clinics is a nurse-led service which helps newly arrived refugees to navigate Australia’s comprehensive healthcare system. Working in partnership with local English training organisations, the clinics support students in making safe and reliable healthcare decisions.  The clinics’ services are free, confidential and community-based providing health education and information and empowering students to address their health and wellbeing.

With the support of the local Technical and Further Education (TAFE) which provides an adult migrant English programme, the clinics meet the need to educate, informed and skill the clinics refugee clients to help them learn the basics of the Australian health care system, which included how to arrange, negotiate and confirm appointments

The Refugee Outreach/CALD Clinics are a nurse-led service which sees not only refugees and asylum seekers, but any student from a culturally and linguistically diverse background (CALD). The Clinic is part of the Newcastle Refugee Health Service which sees approximately 200-250 newly arrived refugees yearly in addition to asylum seekers.

The Newcastle Refugee Health Service is a free and confidential service which provides “on-arrival’ health assessments by a nurse and a paediatrician, “catch up” immunisation, dental triage and referrals to other specialist medical services, such as infectious diseases, rehabilitation of torture and trauma survivors, family planning, obstetrics, optometry and the chest clinic for tuberculosis screening for children under the age of two years.

All newly arrived individuals are first seen in their home by the refugee health nurse within two weeks of arrival. The nurse performs a comprehensive on-arrival health assessment, manages all clinics including immunisation and the GP/paediatrician clinic.  All clients are seen for up to six months for “catch up” immunisation and paediatrics with latent TB.

The data of the outcomes of this service have demonstrated that this is an effective referral and education service with a high rate of satisfaction amongst those who access the clinic. The service has alleviated pressure on the nurse when clients arrive on a walk-in basis without an appointment.  It has also decreased stress for clients who would like to discuss their health care in a safe and confidential setting.

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