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Refugee and asylum seeker children and their families are subject to high levels of adversity, both before and after arrival in Australia. Many have experienced past trauma and/or torture and families have ongoing risk factors for the development of mental health problems. Asylum seeker families who arrived in Australia by boat will have experienced immigration detention, and those who arrived after mid 2013 will have experienced prolonged immigration detention. Consider mental health issues and trauma as well as health, development and education in the assessment of any child/young person from a refugee or asylum seeker background. Other important points are:
This resource outlines different mental health services for refugee, asylum seeker or culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background; the majority of these services are relevant to all children/young people in Victoria. Contact details are available through the weblinks provided. Access to interpreters varies, this information is included where available.
Foundation House provides counseling, advocacy, family support, group work, psycho-education, school support, information sessions and complementary therapies for refugee and asylum seeker clients. VFST has offices in Brunswick, Dandenong and Sunshine and an outpost in Ringwood. Services are also provided in a number of rural and regional centres across Victoria. Interpreters available for all consultations. Details on referrals and referral forms are available, or intake is 03 9388 0022.
Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) undertakes a range of programs, projects and policy initiatives aimed at enhancing the life opportunities of young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. They provide a variety of Youth Support Programs (interpreters available), including:
Specialist child and adolescent mental health services are provided for children and adolescents up to the age of 18 years. Young people 16 - 18 years of age may receive a service from either CAMHS or youth/adult area mental health services depending on their needs or services available. Refugee or asylum seeker children are not currently part of the priority access service response (PASR). Referral occurs through an intake process, and can be initiated by any concerned adult, although parent consent is needed for work to progress. The intake worker will contact the family, using an interpreter, to triage the referral.
Services are provided for children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbance, e.g. presenting with: impaired reality testing, hallucinations, depression, suicidal behaviour, hyperactivity, nightmares, fearfulness, bed-wetting, language problems, refusal to attend school and stealing. Service types include:
Referrals to the Department of Psychology are accepted for: Children with regular outpatients appointments presenting with complex developmental, cognitive, academic, language and behavioural or socio-emotional difficulties, where assessment requires specialized knowledge or skill. For example:
Referrals to Neuropsychology are accepted when:
Referrals can be made by letter or by completing a referral form (for both Psychology or Neuropsychology). Interpreters are available.
The Child and Family Psychology Clinic is also linked to the RCH Department of Psychology - this is a statewide fee for service clinic. A 'Learning Differences Assessment' service is also available. Referrals are accepted under the new Medicare Better Access Programs.
May provide bulk-billed or low costs services.
The Better Access Scheme - Up to 10 individual, or group, therapy services in a calendar year can be partially funded via Medicare. Out of pocket expenses vary between individual psychologists. Many clinicians charge $180 - $190, the Medicare rebate is $143/session. Interpreters are usually not available. Requirements for the Better Access Scheme include:
The Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) scheme is an alternative pathway to the Better Access Scheme for mental health care. A directory of ATAPS service providers is available. ATAPS is a targeted program for 'hard to reach groups', including CALD communities and children with/at risk of developing a mental disorder. The ATAPS operational guidelines indicate Paediatricians and psychiatrists can refer children to ATAPS although this is not apparent on many of the relevant websites.
Clinics where patients are seen by senior Psychology trainees, under the supervision of clinical psychologists.
Frontyard Youth Services is a multidisciplinary service addressing the physical, emotional and social needs of young people aged up to 25 years who spend time in the Melbourne CBD and who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
Specific counseling services available are (appointments needed):
Headspace is a youth friendly health service 12 - 25 years of age, operating a bulk-billing medicare service with clinicians including GPs, psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, drug and alcohol workers and cousellors. No referral needed; centres should be able to access TIS interpreting. Centres are located throughout Australia. See postcode search.
The following community health centres provide counselling for clients of a CALD background. Interpreters are available.
Schools are a central point of contact for refugee children and young people with services in Victoria. All schools will have a designated person who is a point of contact for student welfare. In Government schools they are the welfare officer, in Catholic schools they are the pastoral care worker and in Independent schools they may be called either. VFST may be able to provide individual counseling in the school setting and can provide support and professional development for schools. Many schools have homework support clubs and these can be very useful for this population. Schools may provide counselling if needed, and are mandated to provide educational assessment.
Victorian Transcultural Mental Health (VTMH) is a statewide unit supporting mental health and psychiatric disability support services in working with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) consumers and carers. It does not work directly with clients but has a role in service, policy and community development; research and education. A directory of bilingual mental health professionals is available, and the site also includes links to translated mental health information.
Mental health in Multicultural Australia (MHMA) provides a wide variety of resources, including translated fact sheets and assessment tools.
The NSW Transcultural Mental Health Centre also provides a wide variety of resources, including specific resources for children and consumer medication brochures.
The Australian Child & Adolescent Trauma, Loss & Grief Network, through Australian National University (ANU) and supported by the Australian Government, focuses specifically on children, adolescents, and their families whom have experienced trauma, loss, and grief. It brings together evidence-based resources and research in order to make them more accessible to those working with children and young people who have been affected by trauma and grief, including a fact sheet about refugee and asylum seeker children experiencing trauma. The Network has specific resources oriented towards working with young people of CALD background.
Immigrant health clinic resources. Initial: Georgie Paxton and Colette Reveley Revisions: Georgie Paxton. Updated May 2016. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org