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Bridging the Gap: Partnerships for change in refugee child and family health

Research project

Partnerships for change in refugee child and family health            

Bridging the Gap is a partnership program that brings together health service clinicians and managers, policy makers and researchers to bring about sustainable improvements in the quality of maternity and early childhood health care to improve health and health care outcomes for families of refugee background.

Refugee Child

The Bridging the Gap partnership formed in recognition that refugee background families are at greater risk of poor health outcomes given their experience of trauma and torture and the challenges in settling in a new country. Universal health systems face difficulties in ensuring their services are accessible and responsive to the needs of refugee background families.

The Bridging the Gap partners have developed a vision for what they would like to achieve to improve health and health care for families: Bridging the Gap Vision

The program includes multiple quality improvement projects that are being implemented in four maternity hospitals (Western Health and Monash Health) and two local government maternal and child health services (Cities of Wyndham and Greater Dandenong) with evaluation of process and outcomes occurring concurrently.

Together the Bridging the Gap partnership has been developing projects that will lead to:

  • earlier and better identification of families of refugee background
  • opportunities for clinicians and front-line staff to build their understanding of the refugee experience through training and professional development
  • building system capacity to support families in accessing care including the provision of language services
  • greater continuity of care for families of refugee background
  • alternative ways of providing clinical care and health education that engages bicultural workers and interpreters
  • enhanced health literacy
  • improved linkages and referral systems between health and local support service providers
  • community engagement in service planning
  • more seamless, integrated care across maternity and early childhood health services.

Bridging the Gap Partnership


Bridging the Gap: addressing refugee inequalities through primary health care service reform is supported by contributions from the partner organisations and a partnership grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (2013-2017).