Staff training and wellbeing

Health staff working with refugee communities need the knowledge and skills to care for people who have had limited access to healthcare and may have experienced difficult circumstances.

The resources in this section will support health services to build staff capability to provide culturally-safe care and manage their wellbeing.

Providing a sense of cultural safety, building trust, applying the right communication skills, and understanding a refugee patient’s world view and health beliefs are imperative to supporting them in their healthcare journey.

Sofia L, Multicultural Health Education Officer, Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD

Staff training

The NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) offers face-to-face training for clinicians on emerging diseases and health conditions specific to the refugee community. It also provides online resources to assist staff working in refugee health settings.

Clinical training and workshops run by STARTTS:

When refugee nurses formed trusting relationships, this strongly correlated with a higher uptake in COVID-19 community education and vaccination.

Refugee Health Team, Hunter New England LHD

Supporting health worker wellbeing

It is critical to understand how working with traumatised clients can affect healthcare workers. The STARTTS' Hints for Healing website includes content on self-care and seeking support.

Ensure all staff are aware of NSW Health wellbeing resources, such as:

  • Employees Assistance Program (check your local intranet or speak with your human resources team for details)
  • Counselling services within your local health district (LHD)
  • Supervision services within your LHD.

Also refer to the ACI's trauma-informed care resources.

The Illawarra Refugee Issues Forum has been a long-term resource for services in the refugee space. It is well attended and involves a good cross-section of services and agencies, including the Department of Home Affairs.

Leissa P, Multicultural and Refugee Health Service Manager, Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD

Tips from clinicians

  • Train with other agencies to avoid working in silos. It encourages integration.
  • Run training and awareness sessions with primary health workers, GPs and education staff.
  • Request clinical supervision.
  • Periphery services should also undertake culturally-specific training courses. For example, maternity, administration, emergency and paramedics.
  • Learn how to ask questions and how to respond to questions without traumatising the client or clinical staff.
  • Consent is crucial. Encourage clients to ask questions and seek advice. Ensure clients know they have the right to say no.

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