Between 2005 and June 2010 19,431 people have been granted permanent protection on Humanitarian Program Visas and have settled in Victoria. Most of Australia’s refugees and asylum seekers come from refugee camps or marginalised areas in urban settings where the most basic resources and services are scarce.
This includes safe drinking water, basic health care, education, shelter, safety and adequate food supplies. In many places, diseases such as malaria are common. Health care infrastructure is limited and often unable to provide acute and preventative health care.
Many refugees have experienced traumatic events such as prolonged periods of deprivation, loss of identify and culture, human rights abuses and the loss of family members. Hence, many refugees are more likely to have multiple and complex health problems on their arrival in Australia.
Fortunately, most health problems can be addressed through health care and support in the early periods of settlement. Timely care is critical, as successful settlement is more likely once health is restored.
In response to these issues the Refugee Health Nurse program was developed and implemented in 2005. The program is based in community health services in areas where data demonstrates high numbers of newly arrived refugees.