In this section
This guideline is intended to provide a brief summary of background and health issues for newly arriving Afghan refugees, noting the additional complexity of Covid, and lockdowns and hotel quarantine (HQ) requirements at the time of arrival.
Useful Afghan calendar converter
In late August 2021, the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan - see summary of events. More than 120,000 people were evacuated over the 10 days to 31 August 2021, by many different nations (see media). Evacuees included both foreign nationals, and around 65,000 Afghans. Australia evacuated 4100 people (see Prime Minister's press conference and media), with 3500 travelling on to Australia, including 2500 women and children. Australia allocated 3000 places from the existing humanitarian intake for the initial uplift, and many agencies urged an additional intake of Afghan refugees - see Refugee Council of Australia. There have been more arrivals since the initial cohort (Nov 2021). In January 2022, Minister Hawke announced a further allocation of 15,000 places within the existing humanitarian and family visa programs over the next 4 years, and on 29/3/22, the federal budget allocated an additional humanitarian intake (above the existing humanitarian intake) of 16,500 Afghan refugees over 4 years (funding of $666 million).
Australia announced an Advisory Panel on Australia's Resettlement of Afghan Nationals.
Due to covid, new arrivals were subject to HQ after arrival. New arrivals were placed in HQ in WA, SA, Vic, NSW, Qld and NT - although HQ arrangements (and healthcare available in HQ) varied across the jurisdictions.
Unlike other humanitarian arrivals, newly arrived Afghan refugees will not have had an offshore Immigration Medical Examination (IME) and they may not have a record on the offshore Health Assessment Portal (HAP) system, however it is definitely worth checking HAP, especially for those arriving on refugee visas (who may have commenced the health assessment process prior to the emergency evacuation). The HSP provider can access the HAP number (but not the HAP system) - (Victoria -contact email@example.com). Unfortunately, now (Feb 2022) several months after arrivals, most individuals have still not yet had a post-arrival health assessment, and may not have had catch-up vaccination (which may result in reduced Centrelink due to No Jab No Pay).
All new arrivals should have an initial health assessment after release from HQ. Timing, especially in NSW and Victoria was affected by health service access with the Covid situation and delays in Medicare.
We have seen widespread B12 deficiency in children from Afghanistan.
Catch-up immunisation will be required for everyone, including full catch-up for anyone without a written record of vaccination, Covid vaccination is also a priority.
In Victoria, each of the short term accomodation sites had a designated refugee health team providing triage and addressing immediate needs. Refugee Health Program nurses can assist in ensuring individuals are linked with local primary care.
In mid-September most of the new arrivals were still in HQ - after completion of 14 days quarantine most arrivals moved to shared accomodation. As of late Sep 2021 there were around 1800 new Afghan arrivals in Melbourne, in designated short-term accommodation sites. Immediate priorities for large new arrival cohorts include:
We will continue to update this page as more information becomes available.
There has been wide ranging impact on Afghan communities in Australia, including those who arrived seeking asylum - this is an active consideration in clinic reviews of any new/existing patients.
Immigrant health clinic resources. Author Georgie Paxton, Jen Schaefer, Sep 2021, last update 12 Apr 2022 - Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org