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Displaced Communities & Refugee Health

Every year, millions of people are forced to leave their homes due to conflict, violence, human rights violations, persecution, disasters and the adverse effects of climate change. This displacement impacts their health in many different ways.


How can we approach this issue and contribute to raising awareness in a post-pandemic world?

An asylum seeker is an individual who is “seeking international protection but whose claim for refugee status has not been determined yet”.
A refugee is an individual who has been “recognised under the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees to be a refugee”.

The Convention defines a ‘refugee’ as any person who: ” … owing to well‐founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it …”

2023 Refugee Council of Australia's Refugee Week 

Sunday 18 June to Saturday 24 June 

The theme for this year chosen by the Refugee Council of Australia is “Finding Freedom”.

What does it mean to be free? 

To live without the fear of war, to have your basic human rights upheld, to live in equality and without the fear of persecution are just some of the examples of what freedom can entail. Every day millions of people across the world embark on dangerous journeys for the sole purpose of finding safety and freedom. From Australia to nations across the globe, settling into a new environment after experiencing the perils of a refugee’s journey can also provide the opportunity to live, to love and to dream. 

Poorer health outcomes

Includes hazardous travelling conditions, poor sanitation and hygiene, limited access to adequate health services, psychosocial distress, lack of support network.


Step 1: Health Beyond Barriers Workshop
(5pm, 9th of May)

An interactive workshop written by our very own Education Team, which aimed to give insight into the health inequities faced by asylum seekers and refugees that land on Australian shores, and the flaws in the Australian immigration and healthcare systems that create them. Students had the opportunity to uncover the many stakeholders involved in the provision of refugee healthcare as well as the opportunity to experience a simulation of a refugee's access to healthcare. Participants studied the circumstances of the Biloela Family and the inequities they faced, and practised writing open letters to the local MP to advocate for them.

It was a wonderful night as we engaged in creative conversations and learned more about displaced communities and refugee health. 

Step 2: Challenges and Solutions: Healthcare and Well-being for Displaced People Panel Event
(5pm, 11th May) 

The panel event delved deeper into the topic of displaced communities and refugee health, with valuable insights from speakers of our own local community organisations. We explored the issues surrounding refugee health and understanding the barriers that exist and thinking about how these might be overcome. 


Panel consisted of three amazing speakers:

Josef Szwarc from Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Inc – Foundation House: Josef is a senior advisor in policy and advocacy at Foundation House. Foundation House was established in 1987 to assist survivors of torture and other traumatic events, of refugee backgrounds, who had settled in Victoria. 

Dr Linny Kimly Phuong from The Water Well Project: Dr Linny is a paediatric infectious diseases physician. She is also the founder and board director of The Water Well Project. The Water Well Project represents a breakthrough model in health literacy where healthcare professionals volunteer their time to facilitate interactive health education discussions within communities from migrant, refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds. 

Teba Mazin from Happy Brain Education: Teba is a champion for youth empowerment and a refugee advocate with extensive experience in the NFP sector. She is the CRO and executive director of Happy Brain Education, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to level out the playing field of education for young people. 

It was a very insightful and eye-opening discussion about how these organisations are working in this space and some advice on how we as students can get involved. 

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