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Caseworker Resources

  • This page provides a guide for caseworkers on service access for refugee and asylum seeker children and families. A presentation is available to provide training on service access (see resources).

    Acute care access

    Ambulance services are free in an emergency and public hospitals and related services are free for all refugees and asylum seekers, including asylum seekers in Community Detention. See: Victorian Government information, ambulance payment guidelines, immicard and asylum seeker identification.

    Refugee health screening

    All permanent entrants to Australia have an immigration medical examination (IME) 3-12 months before they travel (see overview of the health requirement), Humanitarian entrants are offered an additional (voluntary) departure health check in the week prior to travel. These assessments rule out public health issues and make sure people are ‘fit to fly’. Health screening in Immigration detention is similar to the IME.  Screening for children is limited, including for children who have been in immigration detention.

    A refugee health assessment is recommended for all people arriving as refugees or seeking asylum after they arrive in Australia, including after release from detention where relevant.

    Has my client had a refugee health assessment?

    Have they had:

    • Blood tests
    • Faecal specimen
    • Tuberculosis screening - either with a tuberculin skin test (needle into the skin of the left forearm, and measured two days later) or a blood test
    • 3 sets of vaccines (~3-4 needles in each set) over 4 months. Children 0-9 years will need 4 sets of vaccines over 10 months.

    Have the results been checked? Have abnormal results been treated? The screening and follow up of results will take at least 2 visits.

    Has my client completed catch-up Immunisation?

    Catch-up vaccinations are provided through general practitioners (GPs) or local councils. They may also be provided at English language school (through outreach council programs), asylum seeker healthcare services,  paediatric refugee health specialist clinics or hospital based services.

    Primary health care

    Refugee health teams provide advice on referral pathways and services. See directory of local teams.

    General Practitioners can provide physical and mental health care, preventive health care, catch-up vaccinations, and refugee health screening. GPs are available through community health centres (free), local bulk-billing doctors (free) or local private doctors (fees vary and there may be gap payments).  See: search by postcode - refugee health teams will know of local GPs with refugee health experience.

    • Community detention (residence determination) – people need to attend their International Health and Medical Service (IHMS) approved general practitioner. - details on approved services are not publicly available. 

    Maternal and Child Health Services (MCH) support parenting and children’s health and development from birth until school age. MCH provide advice on playgroups and community programs, some MCH services provide immunisation.  Routine checks are due at birth, 2w, 4w, 8w, 4m, 8m, 12m, 18m, 2y and 3.5yrs. 

    What should clients bring to medical appointments?

    • Any health summaries, including IHMS summaries if relevant
    • Any test results
    • Immunisation records
    • Medications, including traditional medicines (it is always easier to review medications directly)

    Medications and pharmacy access

    • Medicare -  people have access to PBS medications.
    • Health Care Cards (HCC) - people have access to PBS medications at low cost (copayment currently $6.60) - see eligibility. People on bridging visas (i.e. BVE) do not have access to HCC.
    • Status Resolution Support services (SRSS) - people have access to PBS medications at a cost equivalent to the HCC cost. Normal costs for over the counter medications. People on band 5 support may be fully funded for PBS medications with prior approval.
    • Community detention - people have access to medications at their nominated IHMS approved pharmacy. Details of these pharmacies are not publicly available.
    • Pharmacy waivers - are available from ASRC, Cabrini Hub, and in Hume-Whittlesea.

    Registered pharmacists have access to Translation and Interpreting Services (TIS).

    Allied health care

    Dental services are free to all refugees and asylum seekers, and all children aged 0-12 years – these groups are identified as priority access groups. See local service directory

    Vision checks can be accessed at commercial bulk-billing optometrists for clients with Medicare or at the Australian College Optometry (and associated outreach and rural access), which also has affordable glasses.  School-age children may have their vision checked at school entry (this varies).

    Hearing checks can be accessed at audiology services.  Hearing aids are available through Hearing Australia.

    Physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy are available through:

    • Community health centres - although for children, these services often have age cut points (6 years or school entry).
    • Early childhood intervention services (ECIS) - Children with developmental issues in more than one domain may be eligible for allied health through ECIS, which are now part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), although waiting lists remain long. Asylum seeker children/children in detention can also be referred.
    • Hospitals provide allied health services for hospital patients. 
    • School aged children may (rarely) be able to access allied health through the school system.
    • Private allied health is often inaccessible due to cost and lack of language service support. Bilingual health professional directories are available:
    • Community detention - individuals require case by case approval via IHMS for allied health services.

    Specialist paediatric care 

    • Refugee health specialist paediatric services are available at: 
      • Royal Children's Hospital
      • Ballarat - Paediatric Immigrant Health Clinic - 1st Wednesday of every month (Dr David Tickell). Details: Ballarat Community Health Centre, 12 Lilburne St, Lucas 3350, phone 5338 4500. GP referrals required. 
      • Bendigo - Bendigo Community Health Services - alternate Mondays/Tuesdays (Dr Anne Dawson). Details: Bendigo Community Health Services, 13 Helm St, Kangaroo Flat VIC 3555, phone 5430 0500. GP referrals required.
      • CoHealth paediatric immigrant health clinic (Footscray) - paediatric clinic run on Thursdays 09:00 - 16:30 (Dr Jane Standish/Dr Alicia Quach/paediatric  Fellow from RCH). Child refugee health, and general and developmental paediatrics in Immigrant Health setting. Details: 78 Paisley St, Footscray, 3011, phone Phone: 9448 5502, Fax: 7000 1818.  GP referrals required.
      • Craigieburn Health Service - Paediatric Refugee Health Clinic runs on alternate Fridays all day. Details: 274-304 Craigieburn Rd, Craigieburn, 3064, phone 8338 3081. Intake coordinator: Bev Leiper. Referral from any health professionals (GP, maternal child health nurses, refugee health nurses, school, etc.)
      • Craigieburn Health Service - nurse-run vitamin D clinic every Thursday all day (run by Bev Leiper, overseen by Dr Jolene Fraser). Serves cities of Hume, Whittlesea, and Moreland. Will see children and their parents <50 years old. Details: 274-304 Craigieburn Rd West, Craigieburn, 3064, phone 8338 3081. Intake coordinator: Bev Leiper. Referral from any health professionals (GP, antenatal midwives, maternal child health nurses, etc.)
      • Darebin - Your Community Health - paediatric clinic 3rd Thursday of every month (Dr Anthea Rhodes/paediatric refugee fellow from RCH). Clinic focus is vitamin D. Details: 300 Bell Street, Preston, 3072, phone 8470 1111, fax 8458 6710. GP referrals required.
      • Geelong (Barwon Health) Paediatric Refugee Health Clinic every Tuesday morning 9:30 - 12:00 (Dr Jane Standish/Dr Kate McCloskey). Details: Geelong Hospital Outpatient Annexe, 66 Bellarine St, Geelong, 3220 (opposite hospital main entrance) phone 4215 1396, fax 4215 1383. GP referrals required.
      • IPC Health Deer Park- paediatric clinic monthly on a Wednesday 09:30 - 12:30 (Dr Yoko Asakawa). Details: 106 Station St, Deer Park, 303, phone 9219 7142 (refugee health nurse Badri Panta). GP referrals required - fax 9363 7110.
      • Monash Refugee Health and Wellbeing (Dandenong) - paediatrician and paediatric fellow weekly Monday afternoons (Dr Saniya Kazi, community paediatrics fellow). Details: 122 Thomas St, Dandenong, phone 9792 8100, fax 9792 7759. GP referrals required.
      • Ringwood - Eastern Access Community Health (EACH) - bi-monthly clinic on Thursdays (Dr Shidan Tosif/Dr Dan Mason). Details: 46 Warrandyte Rd, Ringwood, 3134, phone 9871 1800. Intake via Royal Children's Hospital Immigrant Health Service - phone 9345 5522 pager 5985, fax 9345 4751 Attn: Immigrant Health - Helen Milton, Intake coordinator: Helen Milton, email: helen.milton@rch.org.au. GP referrals required.
      • Shepparton - Primary Care Connect - paediatric clinic alternate Wednesday mornings (community paediatrics fellow). Details: 399 Wyndham St, Shepparton, 3630, phone 5823 3200

    • Other specialist paediatric outpatient services - All hospitals in Victoria see children except RMH, Alfred, St Vincents and Footscray.
    • Most community health centres also have visiting paediatricians. 

    Mental Health 

    Education services

    Kindergarten

    Kindergarten is essential for children’s development and to prepare them for school – see local directory.  

    • The kindergarten fee subsidy is available (for refugees/SHP visa 200–217, Asylum seekers on BV A–F , TPVs 447, 451, 785, RoS visa holders). 
    • Pre-School Field Officers (PSFO) are available to help children with developmental problems who are attending kindergarten (kindergartens make referrals to the PSFO).
    • Community detention – Kindergarten fees and placement need to be approved by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

    Schools 

    • English language schools and centre - New arrival students (in Victoria < 18 months) can access intensive English language programs in Victorian English language schools or centres
    • Local government,Catholic, independent and specialist schools are available. 
    • Asylum seekers can continue to the end of the school year in which they turn 18.  Schools can access additional support for students with disability. Disability support is also available to students attending language schools.
    • Community detention (residence determination) children can attend either Government or Catholic schools.

    Other

    Patient advocacy/consumer liaison is available in all hospitals for all patients, and is an important resource for progressing concerns or adverse events, or providing positive/other feedback.

    Language Services - Interpreter services are a right and entitlement for families with low English proficiency.

    Community detention: TIS can be accessed for health care of all clients in community detention (see detail in presentation below).

    Resources

    Immigrant health clinic resources. Updated October 2020. Contact georgia.paxton@rch.org.au