​​​​Refugee Health Service

​​​Since 2004, Hunter New England Health Service has been providing a voluntary,​ free and confidential health assessment for people who have recently arrived from overseas for humanitarian reasons.

The district has an established refugee settlement program ​​in Newcastle and recen​tly in Armidale. The newly arrived refugees are commonly from Iraq, Syria, Democratic Repulic of Congo, North and South Sudan, Tibet and Burma. They have a complex set of needs as they have commonly been exposed to trauma, war, violence, torture, civil instability and loss of family and friends.  

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The United Nations defines refugees as "a person who has a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion." In Australia, refugees are usually granted either one of the following visas:​ ​
  • Refugee (subclass 200)
  • In-Country Special Humanitarian (subclass 201)
  • Emergency Rescue (subclass 203)
  • Woman at Risk (subclass 204)

The above visa subclasses provide permanent residency and allow the refugees to enrol in Medicare for health-related care and expenses. 

Asylum seekers on the other hand are people whose request for sanctuary is yet to be processed and are waiting to be granted refugee status. 

Challenges commonly experienced by refugees after settling in Australia include:

  • Accessing healthcare
  • Finding accommodation
  • Using public transport
  • Learning English if needed
  • Finding a job, child care and/or schools
  • Adjusting to Australian culture
  • Finding community information and services​

Interested in what is happening around the world? Click on the UNHCR Operations Portal below: