Welcoming and supporting the health of people arriving from Afghanistan

Released on 4th October 2021

cohealth is proud to be working as part of a network of organisations supporting more than 700 people who have recently arrived from Afghanistan, providing a health assessment, settlement support and COVID vaccinations to the new arrivals who are currently staying in city hotels. 

cohealth is working in partnership with other agencies including AMES, IPC Health, DPV, Monash Refugee Health Services, EACH and the Royal Children’s Hospital to provide healthcare and support for the evacuees. 

With the support of the Victorian Government cohealth’s vaccination team has vaccinated around several hundred Afghan arrivals, as well as provided health triaging to GPs and specialists for urgent health needs. 

In addition to vaccinations, cohealth’s Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health team have been working with partner organisations, providing telehealth consultations with the Afghan people and creating individualised health plans, triaging urgent health needs and liaising with case managers to get them the care they need while they wait for housing.  

 “We have the privilege of being among the first people in Australia to meet these new arrivals and support their safe and healthy transition into the community. For some it was a traumatic and hurried evacuation, and they have quite literally arrived with just a backpack of belongings,” said Nicole Bartholomeusz, Chief Executive of cohealth. 

“This is a community who already face significant disadvantage and uncertainty as many are seeking asylum and on temporary visas, and within this system they may only have limited rights to work, education, income support and healthcare.  

“We’re calling on the wider community to extend their support, understanding and assistance to the Afghan community,” said Ms Bartholomeusz 

Most of the people being supported by cohealth are families, sometimes spread over three generations. Many of them, or their family members, were working with Australian forces up until the Taliban regained control. 

“We’re seeing multi-generational families, pregnant women, couples with young children and teenagers who have arrived without parents. They all have unique health needs – some related to the trauma they experienced in Afghanistan. Our job is to provide culturally-safe care and support and build trust with them. They’ve come to Australia seeking safety, and we are so honoured to be part of the team that welcomes them,” said Brett Murphy, Leader, Engagement and Inclusion at cohealth. 

“Our first priority is to identify critical health issues needing immediate medical attention, while non-urgent issues can be attended to once they move into permanent accommodation,” said Mr Murphy. 

As the needs of the Afghanistan refugees become more apparent after such a tumultuous period, cohealth says it will need to secure additional and ongoing resourcing to support them into the future. 

“Our job doesn’t end once they move into their house. We’ll continue to support them as they secure housing, and start a fresh life. Many will continue to have contact with cohealth GPs, nurses, midwives and counsellors over their lifetime in Australia,” said Ms Bartholomeusz. 

Read cohealth’s  statement ‘cohealth speaks out in support of the people of Afghanistan 


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More information: media@cohealth.org.au or 0499 101 638

More on cohealth: 

cohealth is a Victorian not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all. It provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services. 

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