Refugees come to Australia with the hope of a better future.
But becoming familiar with a new place can be challenging, especially if you don’t speak the language or have family and friends nearby. Luckily one women is making a difference through her organisation which walks alongside refugees, offering understanding and compassion when they need it most.
That woman is Dr Claire Jones, whose passion for helping refugees feel safe and supported when trying to access health services led her to establish the Australian Refugee and Migrant Care Services Limited (ARMCare).
ARMCare provides healthcare coordination, advocacy and social support, helping refugees achieve health equality and equipping them with the knowledge to reach their health goals.
Claire works tirelessly volunteering for ARMCare as a liaison between refugees and health professionals. She engages in meaningful conversation with refugees and supports doctors by providing comprehensive patient histories. She understands the health needs of refugees are complex and is compassionate to the fact that language, culture and religious beliefs can be barriers for them achieving health parity when building new lives in Australia.
The refugees Claire supports come from diverse backgrounds, sometimes fleeing conflict to start their new lives in Australia. Claire says witnessing the difference her work makes in their lives is inspiring.
“Seeing the first smile as someone begins to emerge from the devastating mental health effects of trauma, which can take years, is greatly rewarding.
"I’ve also watched people regain their dignity and confidence in response to affirmations and care, after the degradation caused by human rights abuses. And when clients become healthy and able to manage their own healthcare, it’s wonderful to see them helping others who are unwell.”
Claire has helped more than 200 refugees improve their health outcomes. Her work has also positively impacted the community, reducing mental health stigma, increasing health literacy among her clients, and increasing the use of community health services used by refugees.
Claire’s $10,000 prize money from her HESTA award win is both motivation and a means to continue her work by developing ARMcare’s life-changing services.
“The award encourages me to keep developing services and methods which achieve better health outcomes for refugees in Australia,” she says.