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Health plan to help refugees access the right health services


People from refugee backgrounds will soon have access to better healthcare communicated in their preferred language to improve their health and well-being, under a five-year NSW Health plan launched in south-western Sydney.

The NSW Government is investing up to $3 million per annum into the NSW Refugee Health Plan 2022-2027, on top of the $20 million it already provides annually to support refugee health, including funding for additional services in regional and rural NSW.

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said the plan was developed in collaboration with people from refugee backgrounds to improve access to healthcare that is culturally responsive and takes into account the impact of traumatic life experiences.

“People from refugee backgrounds, including those seeking asylum, make an incredible contribution to Australia’s social, cultural and economic life, and it’s vital that they have equitable access to healthcare to give themselves and their families a bright future,” Hazzard said.

“Seeking healthcare can be a challenge for people from refugee backgrounds, and this plan will help them access and navigate the right health services when needed while overcoming any communication hurdles, in both country and city areas.”

Minister for Multiculturalism Mark Coure said ensuring refugees can access proper healthcare for themselves and their families is fundamental to their settlement journey in NSW.

“As humanitarian crises continue to grip the world, we are seeing more people asking to come to NSW to find safe haven,” Coure said.

“Their settlement journey, however, doesn’t end once they arrive — it also includes ensuring they can have ongoing access to relevant services, like healthcare. This plan sets out a pathway for people of refugee backgrounds to access specialised, culturally responsive healthcare in NSW.”

The NSW Refugee Health Plan 2022-2027 was developed with extensive contributions from people of refugee backgrounds and will be used as a guide to shape local health plans.

The plan aims to help people from refugee backgrounds access healthcare through:

  • effective communication in people’s preferred language
  • cultural responsiveness of mainstream health services
  • timely access to mainstream public healthcare services, including mental and oral healthcare, particularly for people re-settled in rural and regional locations
  • efficient service navigation and care coordination
  • targeted health promotion and health education.

Member for Holsworthy Melanie Gibbons said the plan would make a big difference to people from refugee backgrounds, including those who settled in the south-western Sydney community.

“Settling into a new country can be very challenging, and even more so if you had to leave your home due to traumatic circumstances. This plan will be a fantastic help to people integrating into our community as it will help them seek the right healthcare when they need it,” Gibbons said.

Director of the NSW Refugee Health Service Dr Mitchell Smith said the plan will give excellent guidance to local health districts and related services in responding to the ever-changing profiles and needs of people of refugee background living in, or arriving to, our state.

“The plan promotes the key principles of equity, and improved access to appropriate care,”  Dr Smith said.

“Pleasingly, the plan includes a specific focus on persons living with a disability, and for the first time, highlights those of refugee background with diverse sexualities or who are gender diverse.”

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.


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