Raising awareness and improving the health of refugees living in Brisbane

About Refugee Health

  • As defined by the United Nations, a refugee is a person who: “owing to a 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”.
  • An asylum-seeker is someone who says that he/she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated. If they are not judged through proper procedures not to be refugees or in need of international protection, they can be sent back to their home countries.
  • At the beginning of 2009, the Office for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated there were 10.5 million refugees worldwide, down 8% from 2008. In addition to this, an estimated 4.7 million refugees are looked after under the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which was set up to care for diplaced Palestinians. More than half the refugees under UNHCR are in Asia and 22% in Africa, living under conditions varying from well-established camps to living in the open.
  • At January 2009, the UNHCR estimated that there were 20,919 refugees living in Australia.
  • Refugees settling in Queensland come from a wide variety of countries but most recently have arrived from a range of African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries.
  • Refugees present with a wide variety of health conditions related to their refugee experience (for example, torture and trauma issues) and related to their experience living in a refugee camp (for example, disease acquired due to lack of clean drinking water, malnourishment and chronic illness resulting from lack of access to quality health care service).


Other Resources


Our Projects


Refugee Health Seminar

The Refugee Health Seminar is aimed at educating students in how we can make a difference  to the thousands of refugees who come to Australia every year.

During the seminar, speakers including medical professionals and individuals who have come to Australia as refugees, recount their experiences in refugee health.

Past Speakers: 

Dr. Margaret Kay - Inaugural Chair of the Refugee Health Network of Australia;

Mr. Alyas Taqawi - MDA New Arrivals Support Team

Mr. Mojib Ullah - Imam of the Darra Mosque, Brisbane

Dr. Rebecca Farley -  General practitioner and leading community expert in refugee health;

Ms. Saba Abraham - Refugee and member of Eritrean Woman’s and Family Support Network;

Dr. Megan Evans - Senior Medical Officer of Refugee Health Queensland;

Mr. Bobby Whitfield - Former refugee and the president of the QLD African Community Council and Refugee Council of Australia;

HealthY Start Project

The Healthy Start Project is a collaboration by Griffith H4H, Bond M.A.D and UQ TIME, founded in 2010. The project also works with several external organisations including the Multicultural Development Association (MDA) in Brisbane, Refugee Health Queensland, Mater Hospital, and several independent general practitioners specialising in Refugee Health.

The Healthy Start Project focuses on preventative health education. Medical and Allied Health students work with newly arrived refugees in QLD to improve their health literacy. 

The program includes modules on Emergency Services, General Health, Nutrition, Visiting the GP, Men’s and Women’s Health. These modules have been developed with the assistance of experts in the field so that they can provide better health outcomes for this newly arrived and vulnerable population. At each session there will be approximately 40 refugees working alongside 20 students.

For more information, visit the Hope for Health Website or the Healthy Start Project Facebook Page.