Optimising refugee health

Professor Grant Russell

Professor Grant Russell

Professor Grant Russell has successfully led a multinational team of academics and partner organisations in securing a National Health and Medical Council (NHMRC) Partnership grant valued at $1.1 million to improve primary health care delivery to refugees living in Australia. The work will be supported by a further $1.1 million in cash and in-kind contributions from partner organisations.

OPTIMISE brings together academics from Monash, the University of New South Wales, La Trobe University and the University of Ottawa with 11 leading Victorian, NSW and national partner organisations committed to improving primary health care delivery to refugees in Australia. These include Monash Health, cohealth, NSW Refugee Health Service, South Eastern Health Providers Association, North Western Melbourne PHN, South Western Sydney PHN, AMES Australia, Settlement Services International, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Victorian Refugee Health Network, Refugee Health Network of Australia and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

“As one of the nation's most vulnerable groups, refugees have complex health needs arising from past trauma and sub-optimal care prior to arrival that may not have been addressed due to system wide inefficiencies and limited workforce capacity.” Professor Russell said.

“The OPTIMISE Partnership Project is a unique opportunity for researchers to work together with health and social welfare sector partners to systematically address these gaps.”

The OPTIMISE Partnership Project will focus on three Australian regions with high refugee resettlement: South East Melbourne, North West Melbourne and South West Sydney. These regions will be led by Dr I-Hao Cheng, Associate Professor Virginia Lewis and Professor Mark Harris respectively.

“Our vision is to develop capacity amongst decision-makers, researchers and service providers to enable ongoing improvement of health and social welfare services responsible for the care of refugees in Australia,” Dr I-Hao Cheng said.

Over the next four years, OPTIMISE will implement collaborative, system-oriented approaches to increase refugee access to primary care services, optimise systems for transferring refugees from refugee focused health services to mainstream care, and increase the ability of general practices to deliver high quality care to refugees.

For more information, contact Professor Grant Russell (grant.russell@monash.edu, 03 99024509) or OPTIMISE Project Manager, Ms Nilakshi Gunatillaka (nilakshi.gunatillaka@monash.edu, 03 9905 0504)