Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Many refugees and asylum seekers will have complex health issues and have had restricted access to health care when they settle in western Victoria. Western Victoria PHN (WVPHN) is here to support primary health carers access up-to-date and culturally-sensitive information to improve refugee and asylum seeker health.


Who is a refugee?

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. (UNHCR)

Who is an asylum seeker?

An asylum-seeker is someone whose request for sanctuary has yet to be processed. (UNHCR)

Access to health care

Australia has a complex system for refugee and asylum seeker access to health care.

Refugees have work rights. Therefore, they have access to Medicare and can be seen by any general practice. Like other patients, their health care can be billed under Medicare.

Health service eligibility for asylum seekers can vary depending on individual circumstances. For more details, refer to the Victorian Refugee Health Network’s Asylum Seeker Health Information Sheet

Other resources

General resources

Vaccination resources

Translation and interpreting tools and services

Refugee and asylum seeker support services

Refugee and Asylum Seeker Mental Health Project Action Plan

WVPHN is proud to have partnered with G21 and other health and community support agencies in the Geelong Otway region to develop a Refugee and Asylum Seeker Mental Health Project Action Plan 2018-2019.

The development of the action plan meets WVPHN’s obligations to improve referral pathways, service coordination and capacity building for refugee and asylum seeker health.

View the action plan on the G21 website.

More information

Contact WVPHN Assistant Director Glenn Bradley

Last modified: 1 February, 2022