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Care Navigation Program extended following successful integration of Ezidi refugees

Following a successful pilot, the Care Navigation program will continue to provide support to the Ezidi community, resettled in Armidale, for an additional 12 months.

Care Navigation, a program that aims to assist refugees to identify their health goals build skills and equip individuals with knowledge, was taken from a framework developed for an international cancer care program and adapted to the unique circumstances of the Ezidi people settling into life in Armidale.

In 2018, the regional town of Armidale was chosen to provide refuge to 600 Ezidi refugees from Northern Iraq and surrounding countries. The Ezidi people fled persecution in their hometowns from the militant Islamic group ISIS. While the community presented with high levels of trauma, grief, depression, injury, ill-health and disability, the barriers around successful integration were overcome with a trial of the Care Navigation program.

Richard Nankervis, CEO at the Hunter, New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network, who fund the program, has been impressed with the problem-solving skills used to empower the community. “With few of the Ezidi refugees understanding English and many without any literacy in their native language, the Navigator utilises images, translators, and animated videos to help people understand our complex health system.”

“From all reports, Armidale has embraced the Edizi people who are slowly adapting to their new life in Australia, thanks to the generosity of the community and the assistance of the Care Navigation program.”

Care Navigator Melissa Van Leeuwen has worked on the ground with the Ezidi people for the past two years and has assisted in the identification of barriers and solutions. “When one of the Ezidi community members is given a script from their GP, they would take it to the pharmacy to be filled, but then not know how to take the medication correctly, as all the instructions are written in English.

The program’s aim is to educate the new community on what to do with their prescription and many other similar examples we were witnessing.

“Another example is referrals to specialists. When one of our Ezidi community members were referred to a specialist, they would not know what to do, where to go or how to get there. Most of the Ezidi people do not drive, have a car or licence and would not know how to leave town. A Care Navigator assists by organising travel, accommodation and the overall logistics of getting that person to their appointment which may be in Newcastle, Coffs Harbour or further.

“A Care Navigator assists clients with interpreting and navigating the Australian healthcare system by working with them to manage appointments, obtain referrals onto support groups or other organisations, and increase their health literacy to manage or improve their health outcomes.”

The service started as a 12-month pilot, however, following the success and engagement in Armidale with both the Ezidi community and General Practices, the Care Navigation program has been extended until June 30, 2023.

HealthWISE is funded by the Hunter New England Central Coast PHN to deliver the Care Navigation service to the Ezidi community in Armidale.

Read more about the Care Navigator Program

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