Department of Health

Refugee and asylum seeker health and wellbeing

Victoria currently receives around one-third of all refugees and people seeking asylum entering Australia. This is more than any other state or territory.

Currently, around 4,000 – 6,000 refugees settle in Victoria each year. An estimated 11,000 – 20,000 people seeking asylum live in the Victorian community on bridging visas, whilst awaiting determination of their refugee status.

Many refugees and people seeking asylum have complex physical and mental health issues which can result from:

  • poor or interrupted access to healthcare, prolonged deprivation in extreme living conditions and marginalisation
  • inconsistent or restricted eligibility for Commonwealth safety net supports for people seeking asylum (such as Medicare, income support, work rights and casework)
  • social determinants of health including financial vulnerability, destitution, homelessness, job insecurity and risk of exploitation
  • mental health impacts of war, torture, trauma, persecution, loss of and/or separation from family, human rights abuses and prolonged uncertainty.

Despite these challenges, refugee and asylum seeker communities demonstrate tremendous strength and resilience in overcoming adversity to start a new life in Victoria.

To identify and respond to emerging issues in refugee and asylum seeker health, the department partners with the Refugee Health Program in Community Health, the Victorian Refugee Health Network and other refugee health sector partners.

Refugee Women’s Health Community Consultation

In 2023, the department funded the Refugee Women's Health Community Consultation Project. The Victorian Refugee Health NetworkExternal Link coordinated the project.

The project aimed to better understand the specific challenges that women from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds face in accessing and navigating healthcare services in Victoria.

This project engaged with over 50 women from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds. It also engaged with over 100 professionals from settlement, community and health organisations.

The final report outlined findings and recommendations on how health policy and program development:

  • can address systematic barriers for women
  • and meet the needs of women from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds.

You can read and download a copy of the final report at the Refugee Health NetworkExternal Link .

Free public health care in Victoria for people fleeing the Israel-Palestine conflict

People fleeing the Israel-Palestine conflict who arrived in Australia on a visa subclass 600 (Visitor visa) will have free access to health services in Victoria. This is consistent with existing asylum seeker and refugee health policies.

Free medical services for displaced Ukrainian nationals in Victoria without Medicare

Full medical care is available for displaced Ukrainians without Medicare. Victorian government funded health services are able to provide this.

Support for people seeking asylum

In 2023-24, the Victorian Government continues to deliver critical health, mental health, case coordination and financial relief for people seeking asylum who are ineligible for basic Commonwealth safety net supports.

Health access policies for people seeking asylum

In Victoria, people seeking asylum without a Medicare card have free access to a range of health services including:

You can download a copy of the Guide to asylum seeker access to health and community services in Victoria below.

Information on healthcare for people living in community detention is available below.

Specialised refugee and asylum seeker health services

The department funds a number of specialised refugee and asylum seeker health and wellbeing services. These include:

Reviewed 08 March 2024


Contact us

Diversity and Access Department of Health

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