Exciting news – we are teaming up with the City of Greater Bendigo and Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services in a new project to improve the lives of refugee families settling in our city.

Our senior manager prevention and population health Kaye Graves explains the BCHS role in the new partnership will be to develop peer education models to address health barriers faced by people making a new home in Bendigo and to increase understanding of Australian culture, laws, systems, rights and responsibilities.

The project is part of a Bendigo Cultural Inclusion Project and funded through the Department of Multicultural Affairs.

“Many refugees and asylum seekers are among the most vulnerable people in Australia, having suffered torture, trauma, loss of identity and separation from family, friends and culture. This can seriously effect existing health conditions, especially when coupled with arriving in a country of unfamiliar laws, culture, a language barrier and poor knowledge of the health and education systems that exist,” Kaye explains.

“Helping these families learn about their new surrounds and Australian systems and providing them with good information about healthy eating and the benefits of physical activity can have such a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.”

The peer education models will include a focus on identifying people at risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, increasing knowledge and access to cancer screening programs and building understanding around the impact of family violence and gambling.

“Our Settlement Services team and the health and wellbeing services across the organisation allow us to enhance the quality of life for these new members to our community and this grant provides us with the security to continue this good work,” she said.

“We want to not only help new families settle here but provide them with the capacity to participate in the broader community.”