RHeaNA Summaries

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Summary of National Meetings


3 September 2019

  • Ongoing discussion regarding use of funds gifted to RHeaNA
  • Inconsistencies in the HSP impacting health care discussed. HSP tender did not prioritise health as an outcome.
  • Review of clinical recommendations discussed, waiting for feedback from ASID as to how to progress.
  • The National Protocol for SERCO working in hospitals is still in progress.
  • Continued discussion on the Develop National Refugee Health Plan: a large piece of work after review of state refugee health plans.
  • Dept. of Primary Health branch will have a GP starting shortly and will be a valuable asset.
  • Primary Health Care Unit is advocating for interpreters to be used for better access for mental health and private allied health.
  • National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has released new resources to enhance the experience of participants and their carers from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds.  A Participant Fact Sheet that has been translated into 12 Languages other than English provides information for people with disability who need language interpreting services. This information details how to access language interpreting services throughout the NDIS pathway from calling the National Call Centre to implementing an NDIS plan. See the NDIS website for this updated resource.
  • RHeaNA mailing list updated.
  • Chair of RNA, has been invited to join RheaNA.


29 March 2019 – annual ‘face to face’ meeting, Brisbane

At the Annual face to face meeting RHeaNA celebrated 10 years. Dr Christine Phillips, Chair of the Refugee Health Network of Australia (RHeaNA) has shared  this communiqué.  Other agenda items discussed included:

  • Recapping the 2nd Refugee Nursing Association (RNA) national forum held in 26th March at Mater Hospital, Brisbane;  strong focus on the need for a nursing clinical practice framework.
  • Paediatric SRSS clients with mental health concerns; the challenges associated with time limited assessments for paeds clients; how regional paediatric clients access health support.
  • Other clinical areas of discussion included potential reviews of Shisto and Hep C and updating online ASID guidelines; loa loa and screening, writing to CDNA to advocate for TB pathology contact tracing in primary care; advocating to Primary Health Care Unit for interpreters to be used for better access for mental health and private allied health.
  • RHeaNA writing national protocol and recommendations for SERCO working in hospitals in NSW and Victoria; continued discussion over the National Refugee Health Plan, clear health care expectations for the HSP.
  • The generous anonymous gift of $30,000 for the continued work of RHeaNA, collating ideas for how this will be used to develop the Network.


3 August 2018 – annual ‘face to face’ meeting, Melbourne

The annual face to face meeting of the Refugee Health Network of Australia was held in Melbourne on Friday, 3rd August at Foundation House. It was well attended, coinciding with the Primary Health Care Research Conference and the General Practice Refugee Mental Health forum, with other people dialling into the meeting.
Major agenda items included transfer of health information with the introduction of the HAPlite system; introduction of My Health record including privacy concerns; impacts of reduced supports for people seeking asylum; and the implementation of NDIS. Sophie Dutertre, Centre for Ethnicity and Health, presented on work related to the NDIS, disability and refugee background communities, including a glossary of terms for interpreting services. State and territory reports, and reports from other health related national networks were also tabled.

19 June 2018

  • Executive members discussed the unresolved issue of interpreting services for allied health providing MBS billable services. It was felt that it may be time to raise awareness of this issue again and seek a solution.
  • Discussed issues with recommendations in departure health check not matching reality of what is available and suitable within the Australian health care system.  RHeaNA exec representative to contact DHA and highlight the inconsistencies with departure health checks and the DSS requirements for ‘critical health appointments’.
  • Systems to notify appropriate medical personal about new arrivals with serious medical issues were discussed, recognising that a number of people arrive outside of regular clinic hours. The Department of Home Affairs is seeking to pass alerts directly to medical personal as well as through the Department of Social Services to settlement providers.
  • RHeaNA exec rep shared links to culturally specific diabetes food resources  (now available on RHNQ website) and NDIS glossaries that have been developed by the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (ArabicVietnamese).
  • The RHeaNA ‘face-to-face’ meeting will be held at Foundation House in Melbourne, 3-5pm Fri 3 August 2018.  Open meeting to the broader RHeaNA members (including RHNQ members), If you would like to attend, please contact RHNQ Network Coordinator for more information.


10 April 2018

  • Executive members discussed issues around HAPlite system and information flow. The introduction of HAPlite is more straight forward in some state/territories and not for others. Queensland wrote a letter to the Department of Social Services to request an extension of the interim arrangements.
  • The executive discuss the imminent changes in the Status Resolution Support Services and the impact this may have on people seeking asylum. The impact of short bridging visas on accessing Medicare and work rights was also raised.
  • An update about National Disability Insurance Scheme was provided that included the various challenges for access across the states and within each state.
  • Some states are pursuing advocacy around access to IGRA screening for people from refugee backgrounds.


6 February 2018 

  • Discussed issues around HAPLite system and information flows into the settlement reports for new settlement contract. Working well for some state/territories and not for others. Points raised during discussion – Qld not receiving any health info when refugees arrive, settlement reports not being received before refugees arrive, health alert system not working potential alerts not coming through and often missed. Ongoing challenges regarding DSS and DHA and taking responsibility of this issue.
  • Short-term visas and accessing Medicare for some asylum seekers who arrived by boat.
  • Family violence screenings during refugee health assessment: when is it appropriate to ask? Differences across the states and stakeholders regarding timeframes.
  • NDIS update and differences/challenges for access across the states and within each state.
  • Refugee Nurses Australia also advocated for improvement in access to health settlement reports, and the ongoing development of nurse standard and competencies.
  • Research into Google Translate by ANU, regarding accuracy and safety in medical situations with patients with limited English proficiency.
  • Ongoing TB discussion around IGRA screening and eligibility.
  • Release of WHO Refugee and Migrant Health Report and the engagement of RHeaNA with the proposed global action plan.
  • Some states are pursuing advocacy around access to IGRA screening for people from refugee backgrounds.


 24 October 2017

  • Executive members provided updates on service delivery and key issues in each state and territory.  Themes included increased demand for services, increases in clients with complex health needs and issues related to access to latent tuberculosis (LTBI) screening.  Some states reported that access to LTBI screening is difficult. Medicare rebates for Quantiferon Gold do not currently extend to all humanitarian entrants. Some RHeaNA executive members reported state funded LTBI screening. Joint advocacy was discussed and key TB contacts for each state will be circulated to executive members.
  • The 2018 RHeaNA face to face meeting was discussed, however no date has yet been set.
  • Lindy Marlow completed her term as the Chair of the RHeaNA executive and was thanked for her contributions. Dr Christine Phillips from ACT will chair for the next two year term.


29 March 2017 – annual ‘face to face’ meeting, Sydney

  • Representatives from states and territories summarised service provision models and shared key imperatives and challenges. Members continue to report complex needs among people arriving from Syria and Iraq, including chronic disease, people arriving with disabilities and older people.
  • Concerns were raised about new arrivals’ ability to access disability services, particularly the NDIS. RHeaNA agreed to document case studies of barriers to accessing the NDIS for people from refugee backgrounds living with a disability to inform advice to the Commonwealth.
  • Concerns were also raised about meeting the needs of the growing cohort of people seeking asylum who are becoming Medicare ineligible after a negative decision on their asylum claim.
  • Members discussed setting an agenda for RHeaNA into the future, including opportunities for collaborative communication, joint advocacy work and engagement with other local and national networks.
  • The need to attract funding for a RHeaNA secretariat was raised.