Promoting health and wellbeing for refugee-background people living in rural areas

Composite of the welcome table, guest speakers and particiants listening to a presentation.

Date: 17th May 2019

On Friday 17th May, Three Rivers research team hosted a Critical Conversation focusing on the health of people with refugee-backgrounds who have resettled in regional areas. The occasion for this event was to launch a new project that aims to gain better understanding of how community members themselves perceive issues related to health and wellbeing.

The research project is being co-designed and co-produced with researchers at CSU (Prof. Deborah Warr at Three Rivers, Dr. Heather Boetto and Prof. Oliver Burmeister), partners (Wagga Multicultural Council, Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network and the University of Notre Dame) and community members.

A team of eight community members will be employed as Research Assistants to work on the project. They will be involved in research planning, community engagement and data collection and analysis. We’ll be delivering some research training in preparation for these roles.

The project focuses on an important issue. Commonwealth Government resettlement policies are increasingly emphasising regional resettlement for refugees, and Wagga is a key regional settlement site in NSW. Since 2006, around 1,500 people have moved there through the Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP).

Refugees are people who have, through no fault of their own, been forced to leave their homes in search of safety. They receive permanent visas to live in Australia and are likely to have spent many years living in refugee camps before being resettled.
In Wagga, health and social service providers have been striving to meet the needs of an expanding local refugee-background population. Health and wellbeing is enabling for successful integration, however, it is compromised by many factors. These include timely access to health services and social determinants related to housing, work, cultural isolation and other circumstances.

The Critical Conversation event featured presentations from Dr. Geraldine Duncan, a local GP specialising in refugee health, and Felix Machiridza who drew on personal and professional insights as a family therapist at Riverina Medical and Dental Aboriginal Corporation (RivMed), to explain the challenges associated with resettlement.

Attendees were also introduced to three Community Researchers who are already come on board: Shokrollah Abbasi, Hakimeh Rahimi and Constance Okot. They explained that they were keen to be involved in research that will generate deeper understanding of issues such as mental health and the impacts of language difficulties.


For further information about this news item or the work of Three Rivers DRH, please contact:

Three Rivers DRH
Phone: 02 6051 9177
Social Media: @ThreeRiversDRH