To provide access to health care services for unfunded asylum seekers in metropolitan Adelaide.
Why we care:
There is a small group of asylum seekers (currently 30 individuals) living in metropolitan Adelaide who, by virtue of their visa status, cannot access Medicare, and are not permitted to earn the income to afford healthcare. This group are often called unfunded or ‘double negative’ asylum seekers. Many of these asylum seekers have significant mental and physical health issues deriving from the circumstances that led them to seek asylum in the first place and from their years in Australian detention centres. This makes them a particularly vulnerable group in need of good health care access.
Accessing health care – particularly where Medicare is not available – is a complex issue. In Australia, Medicare is the umbrella that subsidises payment of GPs and medications, covers costs of medical tests and referrals and provides free emergency health care in public hospitals. Without Medicare, these asylum seekers are left in a position of being unable to afford healthcare – this is further complicated by the different ways healthcare is offered in Australia compared to their previous countries.
What are we doing?
The Welcome Health Project is using a patient advocacy model to link unfunded asylum seekers with existing health services – supporting the client group in accessing services (health system navigation, appointment support, transport) while bridging the Medicare gap for providers (providing alternative referral pathways, interpreting services). By utilising existing services the Welcome Health Project aims to increase health system literacy for this vulnerable group while limiting cost and liability for the project. The Welcome Health Project is working in 3 different areas to make access simpler for unfunded asylum seekers:
- Accessing GPs
- Emergency services
- Referral Pathways (pathology, radiology, pharmacy, mental health)
The Welcome Health Project does not exist in a vacuum – there are many community services that work with this vulnerable community and we continue to partner and be advised by the following groups:
- Welcome to Australia (link to partner page)
- STTARS (Survivors of Torture and Trauma)
- MHS (Migrant Health Service)
- ASRC (Asylum Seeker Resource Centre – Melbourne)
- Adelaide Primary Healthcare Networks (APHN)
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