Holiday clinics a healthy connection for refugees and asylum seekers

  20 March 2017  NWMPHN   

School holiday clinics for young children and their families are helping connect refugee and asylum seeker communities in Fitzroy with the health services they need.

cohealth on Brunswick St Fitzroy will be running the clinics during all school holidays in 2017, beginning with the upcoming Easter holidays. This follows a successful pilot of the program in 2016 which was funded through an innovation program by North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN).

One in every 10 patients at cohealth Fitzroy identifies as a refugee or asylum seeker, and with appointments for large family groups difficult to accommodate outside of school hours the school holiday program enables non-urgent health screening at a convenient time.

NWMPHN CEO Associate Professor Christopher Carter said cohealth Fitzroy was one of eight medical centres given a General Practice Quality Improvement Grant to deliver innovative health programs to refugees and asylum seekers.

“Many refugees and asylum seekers have not had the opportunity to receive good health care before,” A/Prof Carter said. “We can help them and their children by providing the right health care when and where they need it. “Grants like this are an investment in the future health of the whole community.”

The refugee health school holiday clinics helped around 80 people last year and are looking to expand access in 2017. Specialised nurses and support workers assess physical and mental health needs, check for vitamin D and iron deficiencies, and give catch up vaccinations.

They also help people find nutrition advice, dental services, and other health and social services such as maternal and child health and housing.

Nurse Jeanette George from cohealth said the holiday sessions “helped staff build relationships with local families and identify children who could benefit from early intervention services and follow up visits”.

cohealth Fitzroy provides specialist health services for refugee and asylum seekers and interpreters can be arranged to support people who need them.

For more information, call cohealth Fitzroy on 9411 3555 and ask for the Refugee Health Nurse or go to