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Intergovernmental collaboration for the health and wellbeing of refugees settling in Australia [open access]

Belinda Martin, Paul Douglas

Public Health Res Pract. 2018; 28(1):e2811807.


As outlined in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection Annual report 201617, Australia granted 21 928 humanitarian visas in 2016–17, 13 760 of them offshore. This number will increase in future to a planned offshore program of 18 750 in 2018–19. The report notes that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ranks Australia third for the number of refugees resettled. With such a massive program and commitment by the Australian Government, the need to ensure that health and wellbeing are maintained or gained during the settlement process is paramount. This article outlines how collaboration between like-minded national governments can improve premigration health screening through information sharing, collaborative learning and increased capability in countries of origin to not only screen for illness and disability, but to more effectively put measures in place to address these before, during and after arrival. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US have worked together for more than a decade on migration health screening policies to ensure better management of health needs and successful resettlement. A case study about the Syrian refugee cohort, which began arriving in Australia in late 2015, illustrates how intergovernmental collaboration can improve settlement.