Humanitarian entrant health

Refugees and humanitarian entrants are at risk of poorer physical and mental health outcomes compared with the general population (WHO 2022). This is due to a range of factors including prior exposure to war and persecution trauma (Liddell et al. 2021a) and challenges from the migration experience (Liddell et al. 2021b). 

Many refugees and humanitarian entrants arrive with significant physical and mental health challenges, and often have had limited or disrupted access to health services in their country of origin or first asylum (WHO 2022). Approximately three-quarters of refugees experienced traumatic events prior to arrival in Australia (Russell et al. 2013).

Good health is vital for refugees to settle in Australia and rebuild their lives through social, economic, and cultural opportunities (Russell et al. 2013). Once resettled in a new country, there are a range of factors including suboptimal working and living conditions, ethnic discrimination and social isolation that can further exacerbate health issues in this population group (Altun et al. 2022; WHO 2022). 

International studies have shown that refugees and humanitarian entrants experience an excessive burden of:

  • communicable diseases
  • chronic diseases
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • skin lesions
  • reproductive health complications
  • untreated injuries
  • mental health issues (Timlin et al. 2020).