The Health Access Pathways for New Arrivals Project

Targeted to those who have recently arrived in Australia from situations of political and civil conflict, this project was developed recognising that good physical and mental health are vital resources for settling successfully in a new country.

People from refugee backgrounds are carefully screened for serious infectious disease before arrival. However, many are in poor physical and mental health, the result of deprivation and trauma experienced in their countries-of-origin and asylum. Coming from countries where health services are poorly developed or have broken down, they may not have had access to high quality, patient orientated care for some years.

The fact that they have survived often horrific experiences is testimony to the survival strengths of people from refugee backgrounds. Given access to intensive support and care in the early settlement period, most will re-establish good health. Providing this support as soon as possible after arrival helps to ensure that problems are identified and treated before they become barriers to settlement and more complex and costly to treat.

As well as attending to health concerns and introducing new arrivals to illness prevention programs in Australia, health services can serve as a ‘gateway’ to other resources, such as social support networks and assistance with employment, housing and education. These resources are essential, not only for successful settlement, but for long term physical and mental health.

Sensitive health care can also contribute to recovery from some of the psychological consequences of the refugee experience, assisting people to re-establish their faith and trust in others.

New arrivals will need some support in accessing and making the best use of an unfamiliar health care system. At the same time, most Australian health care providers, having gained their professional experience in an environment of relative peace and prosperity, will benefit from information to assist them in identifying people from refugee backgrounds and to provide care attuned to their needs.

A collection of resources has been produced for both new arrivals and health care providers. Developed on the basis of consultation with refugee communities and Victorian health care professionals, most of these resources are useful in working with people from a range of cultural backgrounds. Language or culturally specific materials or content are targeted to recent arrivals from the former Yugoslavia, East Africa and the Middle East. For more information about project resources download the information brochure.

Projects Resources include:

Promoting Refugee Health A Handbook for Doctors and Other Health Care Providers Caring for People from Refugee Backgrounds

This handbook was designed to assist doctors and other health care practitioners; such as social workers, youth workers and hospital and community based nurses, to care for people from refugee backgrounds. 

Making a Healthy Start in Australia

A booklet designed to assist people to understand and access health care services in the early settlement period.
Booklets are available for download (in PDF format) in the Pashtu, Dari, Somali, Amharic, Arabic, Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian languages with English version. 
Please note that the section “Specific Services for the Community” (page 25) of the English version is different for each community and appears at the end of the booklet.

Healthways – Information on Australia’s Health Care System for New Arrivals: A Teaching Resource for Adult ESL

Consists of a’flip-top’ workbook and accompanying audio cassette, it enables people to access information about health care in the course of learning English as their second language. 
Healthways was produced by Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES) Victoria. 
The workbook (A4, wiro bound, colour cover) is $44.95 and audio cassette $7.95. 
It is available from: 
Sales Officer, Publications,
AMES Victoria,
GPO Box 4381QQ,
Melbourne Vic 3001
Phone: 03 99264694 
Fax: 03 99264690 
through on-line catalogue on

Please contact for further details