Immigrant Health Service

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, Immicard and asylum seeker identification.

    Refugee health screening

    All permanent entrants to Australia have a visa health assessment 3-12 months before they travel to Australia (also 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 visa health assessment.  In practice screening for children is extremely limited, including for children who have been in immigration detention.

    A ‘refugee health assessment’ is recommended for all people of refugee or asylum seeker background after they arrive in Australia, including after they are released from detention.

    Has my client had a refugee health assessment and catch-up immunisation?

    Have they had:

    • Blood tests
    • Faecal specimen
    • Tuberculin skin test (needle into the skin of the left forearm, and measured two days later)
    • 3 sets of immunisations with ~3- 4 needles in each set (usually occurs over 4 months)

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

    Immunisation catch-up

    Catch-up immunisations are provided through GPs, MCHN or local councils, (see Raising Children website for directory by postcode). They may also be provided at English language school (through outreach council programs) and paediatric refugee health specialist clinics or hospital based specialist clinics.

    Primary Health Care

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

    General Practitioners (GPs) can provide general health and mental health care, catch-up immunisations, and refugee health screening. GPs are available through community health centres (free), local bulk-billing doctors (free, see Vic Department of Human Services directory) or local private doctors (fees vary and there may be gap payments).  Bilingual language doctors are available. Refugee health teams will know of local GPs with refugee health experience.

    Community detention – people need to attend their International Health and Medical Service (IHMS) approved general practitioner. There is currently no publicly available list of providers. 

    Maternal and Child Health Service (MCH) is free and supports 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. See directory of MCH services. See local service directory.

    What should clients bring to medical appointments?

    • International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) summaries
    • Any other summaries
    • Any test results that are available
    • 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 $$). Note: the 786 visa carries a HCC, people on Bridging Visa E do not have access to HCC.
    • Band 6 SRSS (previously ASAS) – people have access to PBS medications at a cost equivalent to the HCC cost. People have to pay normal costs of over the counter medications.
    • Band 5 SRSS (previously CAS) – PBS medications may be fully funded – although prior approval is needed for all cases. People have to pay normal costs of over the counter medications.
    • Community detention – people have access to medications at their nominated IHMS approved pharmacy. We do not have details on these pharmacies

    See summary of information. 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 metropolitan outreach clinics and regional access), which also has affordable glasses.  School age children may have their vision check at school entry (this varies).

    Hearing checks can be accessed at audiology services – see directory.  Hearing aids are available through Australian Hearing.

    Physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy are available through:

    • Community Health Centres - although for children, these services often have age cutpoints (6 years or school entry).
    • Early Intervention Services - Children with developmental issues in more than one domain may be eligible for allied health through Early Intervention Services, although waiting lists are often long. Asylum seeker children/children in detention can also be referred.
    • Hospitals include allied health services for patients of the hospital
    • 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 - require case by case approval from DIBP for allied health services. All children (0 - school entry) with developmental issues in more than one domain can be referred to Early Intervention, regardless of asylum seeker/detention status (correct at April 2014).

    Specialist paediatric care 

    • Refugee health specialist paediatric services are available at: 
      • Royal Children's Hospital
      • Ballarat - Paediatric Immigrant Health Clinic - 1st Tuesday afternoon 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 clinic (Footscray) - paediatric clinic run on Thursdays 09:00 - 16:30 (Dr Jane Standish/Dr Merryn Redenbach/Dr Kate McCloskey/Paediatric Refugee Fellow from RCH). The clinic focus is predominantly vitamin D, however other issues can be reviewed. Details: 78 Paisley St, Footscray, 3011, phone 8398 4100, fax 9687 9330, Intake coordinator: Wendy Lee, email: wendy.lee@cohealth.org.au. GP referrals required.
      • Craigieburn Health Service - Paediatric Refugee Health Clinic runs on alternate Fridays all day by the RCH paediatric Refugee Health Fellows. 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 Community Health Centre  - paediatric clinic 3rd Thursday of every month (Dr Anthea Rhodes/Paediatric Refugee Fellow from RCH). Clinic focus is vitamin D. Details: 125 Blake St, Reservoir, 3073, phone 8470 1172 (refugee health nurse), 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 Geelong Hospital main entrance, phone 4215 1396, fax 4215 1383. GP referrals required.
      • IPC Health (formerly ISIS Primary Care) Sunshine - paediatric clinic alternate Thursdays 09:30 - 12:30 (Dr Martin Wright). Details: 122 Harvester Rd, Sunshine, 3020, phone 9313 5000 (refugee health nurse). GP referrals required.
      • Monash Refugee Health and Wellbeing (Dandenong) - paediatrician and paediatric fellow weekly Monday afternoons (Dr Danni Bao, community paediatrics fellow). Details: 122 Thomas St, Dandenong, phone 9792 8100, fax 9792 7759. GP referrals required.
      • Ringwood - Eastern Access Community Health (EACH) - monthly clinic on Thursdays (Dr Georgie Paxton/Dr Shidan Tosif). 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 and Local Government Schools - New arrival students (in Victoria < 18 months) can access intensive English language teaching programs in Victorian Government English language schools or centres.  Local government, Catholic and independent 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 – 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 May 2016. Contact georgia.paxton@rch.org.au