Over the last year the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many communities across the world, including those here in Australia. For some, the experiences of the past year have demonstrated and intensified health inequalities that have existed for a long time. Today, on World Health Day, we reflect on the health inequalities within our own communities.
For our health and mental health team working at Cabrini Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Services, the barriers to good health for asylum seeker clients are all too clear and have only intensified since the pandemic began.
Within our asylum seeker client group, there are significant health burdens. Of those to whom we provide health care, 62% have a chronic disease diagnosis, 18% have multiple chronic diseases, and 50% need the help of an interpreter to understand their health care. However, nearly two thirds do not have Medicare, making Cabrini Outreach one of the few places where they can receive the care they need.
Destitution has serious health impacts. However, many of our clients do not have access to Centrelink, JobKeeper, or any other social safety nets. Additionally, many do not have work rights. These combined challenges make them completely reliant on charities to survive. For most, the wait for an outcome on their protection claims has been over five years, leaving them in limbo and unable to provide for themselves, their families and their health.
To support our clients during this time, our team offers a range of high quality primary health, specialist mental health and pharmaceutical services. Through our efforts and those of other small clinics around Melbourne, a significant number of people seeking asylum in the region have been able to access health care free of charge. When people have so little control over their fate and their future, we hope that we can at least make sure they have control over their health.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, our referral rate has nearly doubled – a rate we fear will only continue to grow.
Cabrini Outreach believes that healthcare is essential to all, no matter what. To build a fairer world, we must support those most marginalised.
If you would like support us on this mission, please consider donating to our Asylum Seeker and Refugee Health Services:
It only takes a little to change a lot.