Building workforce capacity in caring for refugee background families

Bridging the Gap has seen significant training and professional development activity across the health sectors and regions. Partners identified that building workforce capacity to “do things differently” in caring for families of refugee background was a fundamental component of Bridging the Gap

In Melbourne’s west training was made available to partners on the day of the launch of Bridging the Gap in 2014. In the morning, launch attendees participated in Foundation House’s refugee experience training tailored to the context of motherhood and young families. In the afternoon maternity clinicians and maternal and child health nurses participated in a professional development activity with a focus on responding to trauma using Foundation House’s recovery framework. Booking clerks and front of house staff came together for a training session “First impressions” and worked together on better ways to identify and support refugee background women at the point of entry into the health system.

The Bridging the Gap partnership joined forces for a full day training program in Melbourne’s south east in May 2015 and again in October 2016. These days were a culmination of collaborative effort of a working group spanning different departments within Monash Health, City of Greater Dandenong staff, Foundation House and MCRI. Over 100 participants have participated in refugee experience training and attended co-facilitated sessions including: incidental counselling, safety planning, case management, working with interpreters and identification of families of refugee background. The working group has ensured that the training modules are positioned for sustainability.

Professional development supports clinicians working on specific Bridging the Gap projects, for example the Healthy Happy Beginnings program and in-services sessions at Monash Health to support staff in improving women’s access to interpreters in labour. Recently, maternal and child health nurses in Wyndham and midwives from Mercy Werribee met together for an afternoon of professional development including the refugee experience with a focus on life in a refugee camp on the Thai/Burma border and working well with interpreters. At Sunshine Hospital obstetric registrars and midwives attended two afternoons exploring some of the issues that may explain poorer outcomes for people of refugee background and ways to enable trauma informed maternity care.

Attendees have been overwhelmingly positive about the professional development offered, commenting that:

     "It gave me insight in the client's lived experience. The insight will enable me to provide more compassion in my          care."

     "as a result, I will be more aware of supporting staff to support and care for women and families"

     "I found most useful the discussion about what situations may trigger previous experiences - relevant to my work           as a clinician"