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Helping OPTIMISE primary care for refugees in Australia.

Over 75,000 people fleeing dangerous circumstances in their home countries were granted protection in Australia between 2010 and 2015. Many of these refugees and asylum seekers have significant ongoing heath challenges –from pre-migration trauma, disrupted health care prior to arrival and the demands of settling in a new country. Although people of refugee background are eligible for many of the same health services as other Australians, most face challenges when trying to access needed care in a timely way. Despite best efforts over a number of years, inefficiencies in approaches for reviewing the health needs of refugees and ensuring adequate follow up remain. This means that newly arrived refugees may turn to hospital emergency departments with serious conditions that could have been better managed by community based services such as general practice. A team of internationally renowned researchers and refugee health industry experts, led by Monash University, is working with a $1.1 million NHMRC Partnership grant 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. The project, called the OPTIMISE Partnership Project, brings together academics from Monash University, the University of New South Wales, La Trobe University and the University of Ottawa with 11 leading Victorian, NSW and national partner organizations*. While the states have different systems to integrate refugees into the mainstream health system, it is becoming increasingly clear that refugees struggle to access appropriate, high quality primary care. The OPTIMISE Partnership Project will focus on three Australian regions with high refugee resettlement: South East Melbourne, North and West Melbourne and South West Sydney, regions which receive over 5000 humanitarian entrants each year - 36% of national intake The OPTIMISE Partnership Project is seeking to identify and address pressure points in the current system of care relating to the accessibility of, transition between and quality within health services for refugees. Researchers and industry experts will work in close collaboration to design interventions to address these system gaps in an effective and sustainable way. The vision of the OPTIMISE Partnership Project is to build health system capacity for ensuring that people of refugee background receive the primary care they need when they need it, thus reducing inappropriate use of hospital emergency departments. There are two ways in which OPTIMISE offer support to higher degree research students: 1) the networks - both clinical and health service that act as a base for OPTIMISE provide a fertile ground for investigator generated studies - we are running several PhD projects that have emerged in this way 2) OPTIMISE has a large data set that can be further interrogated to address novel research questions.
Essential criteria: 
Minimum entry requirements can be found here:
primary health care; vulnerable patients; health services research; disadvantaged;
School of Primary and Allied Health Care
Available options 
Masters by research
Short projects
Time commitment 
Physical location 
Notting Hill Campus
Joanne Enticott
Katrina Long

Want to apply for this project? Submit an Expression of Interest by clicking on Contact the researcher.