How to set up a refugee health service

NSW Health services and staff can follow these practical steps to set up a local refugee health service. The process may differ according to the settlement site.

Service planning

  • Talk with the regional refugee service leads and stakeholders in other local health districts (LHDs).
  • Establish and build relationships with the NSW Refugee Health Service and primary health network in your LHD.
  • Set up local network meetings with all relevant stakeholders, such as primary care providers, allied health services, local council, Aboriginal community groups and non-profit organisations.
  • Engage with internal health partners, particularly the Health Care Interpreter Service, oral health, emergency department, mental health and child and family health teams.
  • Understand the types of support services and programs available to people of refugee backgrounds on their arrival into Australia; for example, humanitarian programs and NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS).
  • Bring your team together and establish ways of workings.
  • Set up local governance structures.
  • Generate local sponsorship.
  • Establish a multicultural access committee for your service or district.
  • Understand your current resources and identify potential gaps.
  • Establish partnerships and agreements with settlement service providers and set common goals.
  • Establish professional and clinical supervision pathways for staff who will work in your service.

Understand community needs

  • Learn the demographics and health needs of your arriving cohorts, if possible.
  • Gain knowledge of the refugee journey, trauma-informed care and the common health care needs of refugee people.
  • Understand the settlement process and and visa categories.
  • Learn from established services that understand the enablers and barriers to service delivery.
  • Ensure staff have access to all relevant practice guidelines and internal processes and resources.

Build your team's capability

  • Support staff to undertake cultural training, such as STARTTS workshops and NSW Refugee Health Service resources.
  • Ensure supports are in place for staff wellbeing.
  • Ensure you have interpreters and bicultural workers actively engaged in your clinic or staff are aware of how to use a health interpreter.

Go-live with your clinic

  • Undertake health assessments, manage referrals and set up case management.
  • Hold information sessions and introduce newly-arrived community members to the health system and local health team.
  • Continue engaging with local services and key stakeholders.
  • Reassess resources and identify potential gaps.
  • Activate your clinical champions and sponsors.
  • Set up feedback loops to ensure the service is adjusting to the needs of the community and continually improving.

Monitor and evaluate your service

  • Assess the impact of your service.
  • Evaluate the benefits of the service.
  • Engage with the ACI's Patient Reported Measures team.
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