Experiences in the 1980’s demonstrated that mainstreaming refugee trauma treatment into regular mental health services didn’t adequately address the complex needs of people from refugee backgrounds resettling in Australia. This led to the establishment of specialist torture and refugee trauma services around Australia that integrate clinical and community development approaches with interventions to foster a positive recovery environment.
The Australian specialist torture and refugee trauma services are founded on four pillars:
1. Understanding of the refugee experience and the geopolitical context in which the trauma took place from a human rights solidarity perspective
2. Understanding of the nature of torture and refugee trauma, and the interventions that can help achieve results with traumatised clients
3. Cross cultural competence in adapting and utilising evidence based and traditional treatment approaches
4. Learning how to support staff working with horrific stories on an almost daily basis so they can remain effective and healthy
This keynote presentation explores the complex challenges faced by people from refugee backgrounds resettling in a high income Western country, including the main presenting psychological symptoms, the implications for resettlement and integrating into a new society, and mental health. By outlining how specialist torture and refugee trauma services work clinically with clients, and how these are complemented by community and systemic approaches. The positive results achieved through these specialised interventions are presented using evidence from neuroscience assessment tools.