St Vincent’s Health Australia signs new MOU to support asylum seekers

As an organisation founded on providing support to the most disadvantaged, St Vincent’s Health Australia has a long tradition of caring for the health needs of vulnerable individuals and communities, including asylum seekers.

Many asylum seekers are vulnerable to a variety of mental and physical health issues but do not have access to Medicare and limited admission to income-generating activities.

At the same time, government-provided services including hospitals are often viewed suspiciously by those seeking asylum due to experiences in their home country.

As a response to this need, St Vincent’s Health Australia’s hospitals and staff in Sydney and Melbourne have long enjoyed close relationships with organisations representing the interests of asylum seekers.

In Sydney, St Vincent’s Private Hospital and St Vincent’s Clinic have provided support to the Asylum Seeker Centre (ASC) for more than 12 years.

The assistance over this period has taken many different forms, including:

  • providing asylum seekers with consistent access to prescriptions and pharmacy advice
  • pro-bono consultations with medical specialists
  • free imaging and pathology
  • access to a primary health education program covering subjects such as kidney health, diabetes and women’s health
  • helping the ASC procure medical equipment
  • employment for asylum seekers
  • a free lunch program
  • food drives
  • education support for ASC nurses
  • provision of free manchester and kitchenware to help fit out asylum seeker accommodation.

After many years providing informal support, St Vincent’s Public Hospital in Melbourne recently established a Memorandum of Understanding with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC).

The partnership includes the provision of imaging (St Vincent’s Private Radiology) and pathology services – both crucial to the identification and treatment of conditions – along with the sharing of information, training for St Vincent’s staff and development of collaborative research projects.

St Vincent’s Health Australia continues to examine opportunities where it can extend its support to asylum seekers and the organisations which support them.

Photo caption: Boman Ali Wakilzada, a member of the ASRC, who created the artwork behind him to mark the signing of St Vincent’s MOU with the centre.