New Children's Refugee Health Service

Saed* spent two years in a refugee camp in Jordan after fleeing the war in Syria. Not long after arriving in Australia at age 10, he started having chronic headaches. He was struggling to engage with others, spoke infrequently, had poor concentration, woke up frequently at night crying, and had angry outbursts. The family was also struggling: his mother had depression and there were three other children to care for. Saed’s father was still looking for work.

Knowing they were unable to afford a private specialist, their GP referred Saed to the paediatric refugee clinic at the Sydney Children’s Hospital. They coordinated the many investigations and referrals that ensued, within the Hospital and the community. The medical team and the social worker from the Refugee Clinic worked with the family for over a year. Saed has now settled into school and is engaged in regular counselling. He has his first pair of glasses and has seen a dentist. He continues to have headaches, but now understands how they are linked to his mood and feels he has greater control over them.

If you have a child with complex needs from a refugee or asylum seeker background consider a referral to the multidisciplinary paediatric refugee health clinic at the Sydney Children’s Hospital. We see children under 16 years of age from a refugee-like background for:

  • Specialist Child Health assessment, investigation and management, and
  • Health screening of asylum seekers in accordance with ASID guidelines, where not available elsewhere.

A referral form is available online, or fax a GP referral to 9382 8188, with pathology results, details of medications, and related reports. For enquiries contact 9382 8472 or email: SCHN-SCH-Refugee@health.nsw.gov.au. For more details see our website: SCHN Children’s Refugee Service.

*Name has been changed