Collaborative Mental Health Care to Support a Young Person from a Refugee Background

Date produced 14 November 2013

Join our expert interdisciplinary panel to explore the case of Yvonne, a young Sierra Leonean girl who has come to Australia on humanitarian grounds.

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Learning outcomes

By watching this webinar you will:

  • develop an improved understanding the mental health indicators in the context of Yvonne’s refugee experience 
  • be better able to identify the key principles of the featured disciplines' approach in screening, diagnosing, and supporting the health and mental health of Yvonne  
  • explore tips and strategies for interdisciplinary collaboration for young people, like Yvonne, who have come from a refugee background and may have mental health issues.

MHPN acknowledges the support of Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHiMA) in developing and promoting this webinar.


Professor Shantha M.W Rajaratnam
Qualifications: Ph.D.
Profession: President, Australasian Sleep Association. Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Programs, School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University.
Based in: Melbourne, Victoria
Shantha Rajaratnam was awarded his PhD degree from Monash University in 1998, and Bachelor of Laws degree in 2000. He undertook postdoctoral training at the Centre for Chronobiology at the University of Surrey, UK from 2000-2002, where he investigated human sleep-wake regulation, in particular the role of melatonin.

In 2004 he took up a visiting academic position at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, USA, investigating the impact of melatonin agonists and light on sleep and circadian rhythms, and fatigue management programs in occupational settings.

Since 2006 he has served as Chair of the Monash Sleep Network. He is a Lecturer in Medicine in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an Associate Neuroscientist in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He is a Psychologist, Chartered Psychologist in the UK and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.


  • Dr Georgia Paxton
    Profession: Paediatrician
    Based in: Victoria
    Dr Georgie Paxton is the Head of Immigrant Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital. She has been involved in developing clinical guidelines, education resources and policy in paediatric immigrant health in Victoria. Her research/policy interests include health literacy, the health status of refugee children and young people, learning issues in non-English speaking students and vitamin D. She is the lead author of the Victorian Government’s Refugee Status Report, published in 2011, and Chair of the Victorian Refugee Network.

  • Professor Louise Newman

    Louise Newman is the Professor of Developmental Psychiatry and Director of the Monash University Centre for Developmental Psychiatry & Psychology. Prior to this appointment she was the Chair of Perinatal and Infant Psychiatry at the University of Newcastle and the previous Director of the New South Wales Institute of Psychiatry.

    In January 2011 she was appointed as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

    She is a practising infant psychiatrist with expertise in the area of disorders of early parenting and attachment difficulties in infants. She has undertaken research into the issues confronting parents with histories of early trauma and neglect. Her current research is focussing on the evaluation of infant-parent interventions in high-risk populations, the concept of parental reflective functioning in mothers with borderline personality disorder and the neurobiology of parenting disturbance.

    She has published in the areas of infant mental health, attachment disorders trauma, and prevention of child abuse. She is co-author of the textbook Clinical Skills in Infant Mental Health and the forthcoming Contemporary Approaches in Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

    She is the Convenor of the Alliance of Health Professions for Asylum Seekers and an advocate for the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. She is the Chair of the Detention Expert Health Advisory Group an independent body providing advice to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on the health needs of asylum seekers. She has been involved in research into the impact of immigration detention on child asylum seekers.

  • Professor Nicholas Procter
    Qualifications: PhD MBA Grad Dip Adult Ed BA CertAdvClinNsg RN
    Profession: Mental Health Nurse
    Based in: South Australia

    Professor Nicholas Procter is the UniSA inaugural Chair: Mental Health Nursing and convener of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Research Group located within the Sansom Institute for Health Research. His other appointments include convener of UniSA's Human Rights and Security Research and Innovation Cluster, and adjunct professor at the University of Tasmania.

    Working collaboratively with mental health consumers, clinicians and sector managers, Professor Procter has longstanding interests in research, knowledge transfer and community engagement in mental health. The strategic intent is 'excellence with relevance' through innovative, collaborative and enterprising activities. Such work has been fruitful. It has guided success and delivered fresh confidence in how much consumers, clinicians and academic faculty can achieve together.

    In recent times more than 600 consumers, clinicians and policy makers have taken part in mental health symposiums and other community events across a range of settings. Strong networks and collaboration with government and non-government organisations are at the heart of these outcomes locally, nationally and internationally. Professor Procter has completed specialist psychological autopsy investigator training with the American Association of Suicidology.

  • Dr Christine Boyce
    Profession: General Practitioner
    Based in: Tasmania
    Christine Boyce is a general practitioner who has been working in mainstream practice and refugee health for over ten years in Hobart, Tasmania. She chairs the RACGP’s specific interest group in refugee health, teaches at University of Tasmania’s clinical school, and has strong interests in social justice and equitable health care. In 2008 she was awarded the RACGP “GP of the Year’ in recognition of her work with refugees and in education.


The following resources support the webinar:

Case study

Yvonne—Supporting a Young Person from a Refugee Background PDF [519 KB]

CPD points

Overview of CPD points PDF [380 KB]

Slides and other resources

Presentation slides

Mental Health Services for CALD Communities Fact Sheet
Details of currently funded mental health services for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHiMA)
The MHiMA project is funded by the Australian Government, Department of Health and Ageing to provide a national focus for advice and support to providers and governments on mental health and suicide prevention for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT)
FASSTT is a national coalition of organisations that respond to the needs of survivors of torture and trauma who have come to Australia from overseas. There is an agency in each state and territory of Australia.

Refugee Council of Australia
The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is the national umbrella body for refugees and the organisations and individuals who support them. RCOA promotes the adoption of flexible, humane and practical policies towards refugees and asylum seekers both within Australia and internationally through conducting research, advocacy, policy analysis and community education.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) is Australia’s leading asylum seeker organisation.  ASRC is a multi-award winning, independent and non-federal government funded human rights organisation.

Participants who attended the webinar provided the following feedback:

Learning needs

85% of survey respondents indicated their learning needs were 'entirely met'. 15% indicated their learning needs were 'partially met'.

Relevance to practice

When asked to rate how relevant the webinar was to the clinicians own practice, 62% stated it was ‘entirely relevant’. 33% marked it as ‘partially relevant’.

Practice change

95% of respondents intend to make changes to their clinical work practice as a result of attending the webinar.

This webinar was produced in November 2013. The Mental Health Professionals’ Network’s webinars are produced for mental health professionals. The information is intended for suitably-experienced mental health professionals and does not replace clinical judgement and decision making. It is intended for use as a guide of a general nature only and may or may not be relevant to particular patients or circumstances. The subject matter is not exhaustive of any mental health conditions presented. Health professionals implementing any recommendations contained in the webinar must exercise their own independent skill or judgement or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular circumstances when so doing. Any information presented in the webinar recording was deemed relevant at the time of the live event and after this date has not been reviewed. No guarantee can be given that the information is free from error or omission.

Accordingly, MHPN and its employees and agents shall have no liability (including without limitation liability by reason of negligence) to any users of the information contained in any MHPN webinar for any loss or damage (consequential or otherwise) cost or expense incurred or arising by reason of any person using or relying on the information contained in MHPN webinars and whether caused by reason of any error, negligent act, omission or misrepresentation of the information.