Robert Schweitzer, Lisa Buckley & Donata Rossi
Queensland University of Technology
Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma
Over the past five years, Australia has accepted approximately 50 000 individuals through its Humanitarian program. To integrate these individuals specialised medical and psychological services have been established in major centres of Australia. Australia has been involved in a heated and partisan debate as to the policy of the government in responding to the refugee situation. Regardless of the outcome of the debate, it is imperative that Australia establishes and develops effective policies and processes to respond to the mental health needs of refugees and asylum seekers. To this end, the current review provides an overview of published studies relating to the psychological treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as studies covering the delivery of related services in response to the needs of this group. In this review we aim to provide an informed perspective in terms of research evidence where this is available. Reported research is supported by findings from local focus groups conducted in Queensland, Australia. The overall aim is to provide an optimum response to facilitate the development of effective and humane programs for a significantly disadvantaged group in our community.
|OVERVIEW OF CURRENT SERVICES ACROSS AUSTRALIA|
The first specialised support services for refugees and asylum seekers to be developed and implemented in Australia began in Victoria in 1987. This was followed by the development of specialised services in other states and in the Northern Territory.
The National Forum of Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (NFSSTT) was established in 1992 with the purpose of representing the interests of the following specialist services: Queensland Program for the Assistance of Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT), Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Services (STARTTS), Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (VFST), Torture Rehabilitation and Network Service (TRANSACT), Survivors of Torture and Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation Service (STTARS), Support for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (PHOENIX), Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors (ASeTTS), Torture and Trauma Survivors Service of the Northern Territory (TTSSNT). The NFSSTT has resulted in the ability to provide comprehensive services for survivors of torture and trauma throughout Australia (see Appendix 1). The services can be summarised in terms of: direct services (clinical assessments, counselling, advocacy, group work and natural therapies), prevention (psycho-educational programs, information, Early Health Assessment and Intervention Services including children and adolescent programs) and developmental (community consultations, education, community development, training, consultancy, supervision, policy development, international links and research/publication). There is a strong spirit of national co-operation and a drive for the development of standards of excellence by service providers.
To date, no formal evaluation of these services has been undertaken. We thus have no independent evidence to indicate that the interventions provided by the above services result in an improved outcome for persons who have utilised these services. This is not to suggest that these services are not helpful but simply, that they have not been subject to formal evaluation. Focus group data certainly suggest that refugees and asylum seekers who have utilised these services appreciate the fact that they are available.
|REFUGEE AND ASYLUM SEEKERS MENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS|
Following an extensive review of the literature relating to refugees and asylum seekers and mental health, a series of studies published over the past 10 years in refereed journals and books have been identified. For inclusion, studies need to report significant correlations or predictions between the refugee concerns or experiences and mental health outcomes. We have focussed upon the published literature examining concerns of refugees and asylum seekers in North America and Australia, because there is likely to be some similarity in terms of ethnic groups seeking refugee status in these jurisdictions. Ten studies fulfilling these criteria were identified. The data relating to refugee concerns may be divided between ' pre-migration concerns' and ' post-migration concerns'.
The examination of findings related to pre-migration concerns (see Appendix 2) is drawn from studies covering Tamil asylum seekers (Steel & Silove, 2000), Cambodian refugees (Blair, 2000), African refugees (Rousseau, Mekki-Berrada & Moreau, 2001), South-East Asian refugees (Kroll et al., 1989), Bosnian refugees (Weine, Becker & McGlashan, 1995) and Chinese and Vietnamese refugees (Hinton, Tiet, Tran & Chesney, 1997). In almost all instances, refugees report forced separation from family, traumatic experiences within their homeland, commonly associated with war trauma and loss of family members and in one instance, communal trauma associated with "ethnic cleansing" (Weine et al., 1995). Respondents also reported deprivation of food or water, lack of shelter, being in a combat situation, murder, kidnapping and forced isolation (Steel & Silove, 2000).
While formal research is necessarily limited by sample sizes which ranged from 20 to 404 in the studies reviewed, all the research indicated an increase in prevalence of symptomatology in groups studied. The majority of symptomatology was, not surprisingly, associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression (Blair, 2000; Weine et al., 1995; Steel & Silove, 2000) as well as anxiety and depression (Kroll et al., 1989; Hinton et al., 1997) and general mental health problems (Rousseau et al., 2001).
In reviewing post-migration experiences (see Appendix 3) we divided the findings in the literature to exemplify those factors which contribute to further trauma, (vulnerability factors), and factors seen to be protective (protective factors). Common vulnerability factor are forced separation from one's family, unemployment, and a lack of access to health and welfare services and difficulties with the refugee visa application process. An additional vulnerability factor includes poor English language proficiency. Interestingly, Beiser & Hou (2001) report that English language proficiency was found predictive of depression in the long term only (at ten year follow-up) while Blair (2000) reports that poor English language skills contributes to psychological vulnerability during the first year of settlement. Refugees who reported more financial stress, that is, had significantly lower earnings or were on welfare rates were more likely to have a diagnosis of depression (Blair, 2000).
Protective factors were identified in five studies and relate to three aspects of the post-migration experiences: social support, language proficiency and education. Increased social support derived from reunification with members of one's family (Rousseau et al., 2001), migrating with immediate family members (Hinton et al., 1997), and local network size and network satisfaction (Chung, Bemak & Wang, 2000) were all associated with positive mental health outcomes. Similarly English language proficiency and increased level of education (Beiser & Hou, 2001) were again associated with positive mental health outcomes. Protective factors include adequate social support, the presence of family members in the country of resettlement, and English language proficiency.
As Western nations have become increasingly aware of the impact of migration resulting from war and natural disaster situations, so too governments have responded by providing specialised interventions for victims of various forms of trauma that has led to people seeking refuge in other countries. These interventions may not only be based upon humanitarian considerations but also the very pragmatic considerations that traumatised individuals who are unable to function effectively in their new country are likely to cost governments considerably more than well functioning individuals able to make positive contributions to the community.
One response has been the development and evaluation of a range of treatment
programs orientated toward the needs of refugees.
Following a selective review of studies covering refugees and psychological interventions, four studies were identified, each of which examined intervention programs based upon psychological principles in the management of refugee mental health (see Appendix 4). These studies used a variety of intervention approaches with groups of refugees from Bosnia (Weine, Kulenovic, Pavkovic, & Gibbons, 1998), Vietnam (Snodgrass et al., 1993), Indo-China (Mollica, Wyshak, Lavelle, Truong, Tor & Yang, 1990), and from mixed countries of origin (Paunovic & Öst, 2001; Vesti, Somnier & Kastrup, 1992).
Each of the studies reviewed utilised relatively small numbers of participants, ranging from 16 to 52, due to the limitations imposed upon clinical research, particularly where the intervention may need to be conducted in a language other than the researcher's first language. Each of the studies reviewed involved a formal assessment of the participants prior to, and after treatment, and reported their outcomes in refereed publications.
Detailed descriptions of the specific treatment programs are outlined in Appendix 4. Overall treatment modalities ranged from exposure therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (Paunovic & Öst, 2001), testimony (Weine et al., 1998), the utilisation of a coping skills model (Snodgrass et al., 1993), and a combination of primary care involving medication and counselling and social service support (Mollica et al., 1990).
In reviewing the outcome of studies overall, it needs to be concluded that the findings are equivocal. In Paunovic and Öst's (2001) study, comparing exposure therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, they report a significant reduction of PTSD symptoms and anxiety symptoms with both approaches over a six-month period. Similarly, Weine et al. (1998), utilising a ' testimony' approach, also report a significant decrease in PTSD related symptoms. A significant limitation in each of these studies was the absence of a control group.
Snodgrass et al. (1993) utilised a coping skills model with Vietnamese refugees. In contrast to the studies reviewed thus far, they utilised a control group. They reported a significant reduction in PTSD symptomatology in the treatment group and no reduction in symptoms in the control group. In contrast to these findings Mollica et al. (1990), utilising a primary care model including medication, counselling and social support, reported an improvement in refugees from Cambodia and Vietnam while refugees from a Hmong/Laotian background evidenced an increase in symptoms over the six month period.
One further treatment study deserves inclusion due to the unique features of the intervention. Woodcock (1995) undertook a study of two Kurdish families and one Iranian family living in London. The intervention was described as "culturally appropriate healing rituals within the family context". He reports an increase in each of the participants families' ability to function as a result of the intervention.
|Evaluation Of Studies Reviewed|
Overall there was considerable variability in the reported results. It is evident that most intervention approaches contributed to a reduction in symptomatology, over time.
A number of methodological limitations need to be recognised. All but one of the studies reviewed utilised adequate control groups so it is problematic to draw inferences regarding the effectiveness of the intervention. We acknowledge that there are serious ethical concerns with not treating a group of refugees in need of health care, which in turn restricts the use of a control group. We need to recognise, however, that where there is an improvement in symptoms, we cannot attribute the change to the intervention or to other factors or a combination of factors if we do not have an adequate methodology.
Other concerns unique to the study of refugee groups apply to obtaining a randomised selection of participants. This process is extremely difficult given the constraints of re-contacting the population, particularly when examining community populations. The size of the group of participants in intervention outcome studies is generally low. At the lower end of the sample size, the studies are, in essence case studies, which need to be replicated with larger groups so that we may generalise about the effectiveness of the interventions described.
Language barriers are a key concern in the accurate assessment of outcomes. Measures that are used to assess the mental health of the refugees need to be standardised for the particular population studied and not simply translated. To further increase the validity of data obtained, multiple sources of information could be used and thus a more intensive approach to assessment may better clarify the outcomes of treatment.
Another shortcoming relates to the relationship between written measures and informed consent. Pernice (1994) identified refugees in her research as being reluctant to sign an informed consent form. One of her participants explained his perception that if he signed a document he was being held legally responsible for his answers. In terms of his history under an oppressive regime, this request to provide signed consent was a frightening prospect.
Finally, further research needs to assess the possible use and benefits of indigenous interventions, especially if used in conjunction with Western psychological approaches. Mollica and Lavelle (1988) described the difficulty in accessing traditional modes because the refugee community is often in disarray and there is a lack of available elders or traditional healers in the country of resettlement. Exploring and researching other forms of interventions such as the use of traditional methods is still needed. In addition, research into the assessment of programs that intervene at the community level, rather than solely on an individual basis, needs to be undertaken. Williams and Berry (1991) suggest the exploration of a primary prevention level of intervention, for example, which is aimed at strengthening social support or providing community education. Summerfield (1999) also suggested that interventions should be aimed at strengthening social structures.
Based upon the current research literature, we are unable to arrive at any conclusions regarding the relative effectiveness of specialised mental health services addressing the needs of refugees and asylum seekers. The lack of knowledge on evaluations is highlighted by the scarcity of population data and a tendency for clinical experience to guide psychological interventions. This lack of research accentuates the need for continued research on therapeutic and program evaluation and to include longitudinal research to assess the long-term outcome of psychological interventions with refugees relocated in new countries.
|Service Delivery: Conceptualising The Health Needs Of Refugees And Asylum Seekers|
The following section draws upon theoretical and empirical studies and data derived from focus groups conducted by one of the authors, which are used to identify assumptions and to provide perspectives on the conceptualisation of health needs and on the development of appropriate models of treatment at the client-interface level.
|Assumptions Informing Models of Health Service Delivery|
Conventional intervention programs may be seen as an extension of the current model of service delivery developed by and for the dominant community at the intervention location. There is an emerging body of literature on the limitations of such models, which we suggest, need to be considered in the development of more appropriate service delivery to best meet the mental health needs of refugees. To examine this issue, we have identified eight studies to inform us of the difficulties confronting refugees in accessing traditional services. The first, and possibly, most significant barrier to optimum service utilisation is the cultural distinction between service provision and the requirement of the refugee. The culture with which a refugee identifies has a potent influence in shaping the way in which psychological responses manifest (Silove, 1999; Tribe, 1999). This highlights the need to be aware of culture in assessing symptomatology and designing interventions which best address the presenting symptomatology. Further, refugees are often unfamiliar with mental health services, and many of those who are familiar with the concept of mental health view treatment as being highly stigmatised (Gong-Guy, Cravens, & Patterson, 1991). Refugees who feel stigmatised by accessing interventions are less likely to utilise services. In addition, refugees who are unfamiliar with the process of therapy, or who are not adequately informed of the process, may interpret a repeat visit for treatment as an indication of its ineffectiveness (Gong-Guy et al., 1991) and are thus less likely to return for further treatment.
A second barrier might arise as a result of the perception of current treatments by refugees. Pernice (1994) identified the possibility of refugees having developed a conditioned fear response regarding interviews. Further, she noted that in her experience many refugees had rarely experienced a non-threatening interview and found it difficult to accept that speaking with a mental health professional would not impact upon his or her relatives' safety. Accurate information may be collected through systematic interviews.
A third barrier to service utilisation concerns the interpretation of symptoms. The finding of PTSD symptoms in individuals from non-Western backgrounds does not reveal anything about the goodness-of-fit of a diagnosis of PTSD (Stamm & Friedman, 2000). Research by Davis (2000) identified themes of survival, despair and isolation in open-ended interviews. According to the author such themes highlighted cultural bereavement within the participants. Cultural bereavement can be defined as an overwhelming nostalgia or grief for a traditional way of life (Silove, 1999). Examining cultural bereavement draws attention to grief from other losses potentially experienced by the refugee, such as, loss of social roles and leisure activities. In addition, somatic symptoms may often be the primary presentation but do not necessarily denote a lack of psychological insights on the part of the refugee. The presentation of somatic symptoms instead however may reflect a traditional mode of help seeking (Lin, Carter & Kleinman, 1985).
Additional settlement concerns, such as social, political and economic may potentially impact upon the mental health of refugees and asylum seekers (Watters, 2001) and would thus also be a point of intervention. It is recommended that the refugees' concerns guide treatment.
The key imperatives guiding interventions suggest that the interventions need to be culturally appropriate and match the needs of the consumer and that they are evidence based. Assumptions underlying service delivery need to be made explicit so logical implications can be scrutinised and effective policy subsequently developed. Conventional intervention programs developed for the dominant culture may fail to adequately address key concerns specific to the refugee population. Outlining underlying assumptions and recognising their impact on refugees is integral in addressing this group's concerns and meeting their needs.
|IMPLICATIONS FOR SERVICE DELIVERY|
Watters (2001) has argued from a conceptual perspective that there is a tendency for service providers to focus on clinical treatment of trauma rather than social, political and economic factors, which may also play a role in the health of the refugee and asylum seeker. Concerns have been raised regarding the sometimes exclusive focus on a DSM-IV diagnosis of PTSD as the only outcome of trauma and thus the "medicalisation" of distress. This process results in the reduction of an often complex amalgam of social, psychological, political and economic concerns to an exclusively individual psychological concern (Summerfield, 1999). Similarly, Silove (1999) draws attention to the complexity of events included in the notion of the 'trauma' and the need to conceptualise mass trauma within a broad and explicit conceptual framework. A diagnosis of PTSD may not fully encapsulate the experience and responses of the refugee. There is thus an argument that in the development of services there is a need to address broader contextual issues as opposed to having a narrow clinical focus.
The need to address a wider array of concerns can be demonstrated from research and service models reviewed above, which show that political, economic, and social concerns also impact upon the health of the refugee. Data drawn from local focus groups also highlight the importance of incorporating a broader context of issues from a refugees' perspective. Such data would assist practitioners in developing interventions to meet the needs of consumers.
Silove (1999) proposed that system-individual interaction, path responses and interventions must all be considered when devising frameworks and a rationale for targeted interventions.
From a service delivery perspective a broad model which includes the purported causes of trauma reaction (acts perpetrated by the persecutory regime and social and psychological experiences which lead to the trauma reaction), core components of the trauma reaction and the goals of recovery (as well as consumer feedback) has been developed by Ida Kaplan and adopted by at least one key provider of services for refugees who might have been subjected to traumatic episodes (QPASTT). Kaplan's model has formed the theoretical and philosophical basis of QPASTT's service delivery model (see Appendix 5).
Civil war and systemic terror and torture has the impact of creating a total breakdown in the social fabric and the relationships in the community. One of the advantages of the Kaplan model is that it reflects the systemic dimensions of the torture and trauma experience and therefore it moves the model beyond the psychological consequences, many of which have been reviewed in this paper. The causes of the trauma reaction and therefore the recovery paths are reflected in the whole social and political dimension of the refugee experience within this model.
It acknowledges that any human being who is exposed to such severe and prolonged conditions will experience a range of psychological reactions.
By "normalising" to some degree the trauma reaction the model is then able to address the other dimensions of an individual's life including - spiritual, social and existential questions.
QPASTT has developed programs which aim to meet the expressed needs of clients within a particular context. Therefore, programs are not only informed by the knowledge on psychological trauma but also cultural, social and political dimensions.
Political, economic and social concerns impact upon the mental well-being of refugees. Examples of political issues in the Australian context include the detention of asylum seekers (Silove, 1993) and the lack of access to health care (Silove, Steel, McGorry & Dobny, 1999). International studies have provided examples of economic factors such as low income (Blair, 2000) and unemployment (Pernice & Brook, 1996) impacting upon refugee mental health. Similarly, social factors have a similar impact, resulting from such factors as discrimination at work (Pernice & Brook, 1996), poor social support (Gorst-Unworkth & Goldenberg, 1989); Pernice & Brook, 1996) and limited English language skills (Beiser & Hou, 2001).
Services developed by specialist organizations such as QPASTT meet a range of needs e.g. group work activities to restore connection, individual counselling, advocacy around basic settlement support services and employment and community development approaches to restore meaning and connectedness. This approach also notes the need for flexibility and sensitivity to diverse cultural and social traditions and has significant implications for conceptualising the trauma and treatment process within a broader framework than provided by traditional studies which rely on a narrow clinical focus such as PTSD, anxiety and depression. Services may also be informed by data derived from client feedback and focus groups. Focus group data is explored in the section following.
|Focus Group Data: Method|
In partnership with NFSSTT, staff from QPASTT conducted focus groups to obtain a refugee perspective of issues confronting refugees. QPASTT, a torture and trauma centre has a history of close collaboration with their 'consumer groups'. The focus groups, undertaken throughout Australia, looked at the needs of new arrivals and the extent to which these needs were met through the Early Health Assessment and Intervention Services (EHAIS). In addition, the groups examined the extent to which their clients, refugees and asylum seekers, were satisfied with their settlement and improvements that could be made to current services (NFSSTT, 2001).
The focus groups comprising participants from the former Yugoslavia, Somalia and Burma and of the Mong ethnic group were facilitated around the following key questions:
Participants were asked to raise any other issues they felt were important.
A related project was undertaken by an organisation representing general medical practitioners, in conjunction with QPASTT and newly arrived refugee communities from the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Bosnia. The consumer consultants were from Bosnia, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq and Kurdistan. One of the consumer consultants represented the group of people who have been released from immigration detention centres and are Temporary Protection Visa (TPV) holders.
The project had two broad objectives; firstly, to obtain ongoing input from newly arrived refugees on the appropriateness and effectiveness of health services provided by Queensland Health, General Medical Practitioners and QPASTT, and secondly, to ensure consumer involvement in the planning and development of health services for newly arrived refugees (Refugee Consumer Report, 2001).
|Focus Group Data: Results|
The overwhelming need reported by participants across the groups was for assistance in accessing health services. All participants reported feeling overwhelmed and confused by this task. A number of participants reported that their fear of, and lack of trust in, services was a significant barrier to accessing health services. Many participants identified the need for assistance with psychological issues arising from their refugee experience (NFSTT, 1999).
It was noted that a significant number of people in some communities had been affected by trauma which made it difficult for participants to extend support to one another within the community. One service user in Queensland said, "We all went through hell. What we needed was the chance to have a good cry and some conversation. But it is hard to find someone in our community to have a conversation with about these issues because we are all damaged. Our disease is invisible." (NFSTT, 2001, page 60).
The results of responses from the focus groups suggest that there were a number of features of the EHAIS program that were of particular importance. These features included:
Focus group participants identified several areas where improvements in services could be made, including:
The feedback from the second project facilitated by the consumer consultants indicated that:
It is evident from the review of the literature and the results of focus groups that many of the psychological problems facing recently arrived refugees will only be resolved by material changes in their lives and current circumstances and by being reunited with their families. Similarly, the literature suggests the importance of English language skills and gainful employment in facilitating an effective transition. Nevertheless the focus groups indicated that early intervention and connecting individuals with health and settlement support services helps otherwise vulnerable individuals to re-establish trust and open the way for psychological support (NFSTT, 2001).
The community consultations in Queensland reportedly were a positive way to empower this marginalised group. This project greatly assisted the local services, and made recommendations for enhancing consumer participation.
Research reviewed and focus group data identified a range of factors that need to be considered when reviewing health service utilisation in refugee and asylum seeker groups and conceptualising a model of service delivery. Factors that have been identified and need to be considered include:
Some of these factors are context specific but need to be considered in the development of all services aimed at assisting refugees and asylum seekers. The identified factors, at the client-interface level, emphasise services being sensitive to clients' needs.
Published research and focus group data demonstrates that political, social, economic and psychological factors are important factors in understanding refugee concerns. Effective policy should be based upon sound theory and research in order to develop best practice for service delivery. A range of concerns of the refugee need to be identified and thus a wider array of factors needs to be addressed by services.
Support for an integrated approach to service delivery comes from a study by Uba and Chung (1991). The researchers found that the experience of trauma related to economic and not just psychological facets of the refugees' well-being. That is, of those Cambodian refugees sampled, who were still effected by their experience of trauma, refugees who had experienced a greater number of traumas and spent more time in refugee camps, were also more likely to be unemployed in the United States. In assessing the relationship between trauma and unemployment, the researchers statistically controlled for the effects of depression, anxiety and general psychopathology. In further support, a longitudinal study by Hinton et al. (1997), showed socio-demographic features assumed greater importance over time in predicting future depression than pre-arrival trauma. In this study refugees were first interviewed within 6 months of arrival and followed-up 12 to 18 months later.
In relation to the focus of the intervention, it appears that the factors predicting the mental health sequelae of the refugees experience are multi-faceted. Arguments have been put forward to question the use of a diagnosis of PTSD as it reduces complex issues into a single psychological issue. It has been argued that such a diagnosis does not fully summarise the experience of the refugee and falls short in recognising the perceptions and interpretations of the refugee (Summerfield, 1999). In support of the significance of addressing the perceptions and interpretations of refugees is research from Holtz (1998) who found that refugees who had a history of political involvement had lower rates of depression. Holtz concluded from the findings that political activity might serve as a source of resilience against negative psychological sequelae. However, political motivation did not alleviate all negative mental health outcomes, given that a small proportion of the political activists had increased anxiety. Those who reported feeling helpless in prison and when tortured also reported a greater level of anxiety symptoms, which suggests that the subjective appraisal of trauma plays a role in the resilience of refugees and asylum seekers.
The Holtz research is supported by a study from Basoglu & Parker (1995) who found, in torture survivors (although not a sample of refugees) that ratings of perceived distress and not the severity of trauma predicted psychological distress. Summerfield (2000) stated that fundamental to the processing of trauma is the social meaning which is ascribed to the experience, including attributions of political causation. Further, Argenti-Pillen (2000) suggested that an interpretation of suffering formed from religious beliefs might serve as an adaptive function for the trauma survivor.
In a critique of studies focussing upon individual psychopathology, Summerfield (1999) suggested that a diagnosis of PTSD limits the service provider's ability to afford adequate acknowledgement of the individual's perceptions, interpretations and meaning ascribed to his or her feelings of distress and choices regarding treatment. A general tendency to categorise or compartmentalise the traumatic experiences of refugees, which are associated with psychopathology, would thereby potentially ignore the resilience of the individual. A PTSD diagnosis may not fully encapsulate the experiences and responses of the refugee. By identifying adaptive systems that might be mobilised or undermined for the refugee it may be more feasible to provide a clearer framework on which to base service delivery (Silove, 1999). This approach also emphasises the possibility of multiple concerns of the refugee to be addressed by service delivery through an underlying framework rather than having services put together in an ad hoc manner (Silove, 1999). A model and the various policy implications and interventions derived from the model need to be evaluated. The challenge facing practitioners working with refugees and asylum seekers is to advocate for responsive policy, to develop and implement particular interventions and to evaluate whether there is evidence to support the practices in terms of positive outcomes for consumers.
Based upon the findings resulting from both the literature review and the focus group data, we have identified the following key issues which need to be addressed if we are to adequately meet the mental health needs of refugees and asylum seekers arriving in Australia.
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Robert Schweitzer co-ordinates a post-graduate program in psychology at the Queensland University of Technology. His doctoral research involved transcultural clinical psychology and phenomenology in Southern Africa. He is currently investigating refugee related issues in Brisbane, Australia.
Lisa Buckley is a research assistant in the School of Psychology and Counselling at the Queensland University of Technology. She has an interest in cultural issues in psychology and trauma. Her current research involves refugee and migrant related issues in Australia.
Donata Rossi is the coordinator of the EHAI (Early Health And Intervention) Team of QPASTT (Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma). She is a graduate from the Department of Social Work at the University of Queensland. Since graduation in 1989 Donata has worked cross culturally and since 1995 has worked with refugees survivors of trauma and torture.
|Paper presented at the International Conference "The Refugee Convention, Where to from Here?" convened by the Centre for Refugee Research (Sydney, December 2001).|