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1.  A six-year descriptive analysis of hospitalisations for ambulatory care sensitive conditions among people born in refugee-source countries 
Hospitalisation for ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSHs) has become a recognised tool to measure access to primary care. Timely and effective outpatient care is highly relevant to refugee populations given the past exposure to torture and trauma, and poor access to adequate health care in their countries of origin and during flight. Little is known about ACSHs among resettled refugee populations. With the aim of examining the hypothesis that people from refugee backgrounds have higher ACSHs than people born in the country of hospitalisation, this study analysed a six-year state-wide hospital discharge dataset to estimate ACSH rates for residents born in refugee-source countries and compared them with the Australia-born population.
Hospital discharge data between 1 July 1998 and 30 June 2004 from the Victorian Admitted Episodes Dataset were used to assess ACSH rates among residents born in eight refugee-source countries, and compare them with the Australia-born average. Rate ratios and 95% confidence levels were used to illustrate these comparisons. Four categories of ambulatory care sensitive conditions were measured: total, acute, chronic and vaccine-preventable. Country of birth was used as a proxy indicator of refugee status.
When compared with the Australia-born population, hospitalisations for total and acute ambulatory care sensitive conditions were lower among refugee-born persons over the six-year period. Chronic and vaccine-preventable ACSHs were largely similar between the two population groups.
Contrary to our hypothesis, preventable hospitalisation rates among people born in refugee-source countries were no higher than Australia-born population averages. More research is needed to elucidate whether low rates of preventable hospitalisation indicate better health status, appropriate health habits, timely and effective care-seeking behaviour and outpatient care, or overall low levels of health care-seeking due to other more pressing needs during the initial period of resettlement. It is important to unpack dimensions of health status and health care access in refugee populations through ad-hoc surveys as the refugee population is not a homogenous group despite sharing a common experience of forced displacement and violence-related trauma.
PMCID: PMC2082011  PMID: 17910776
2.  Australian health policy on access to medical care for refugees and asylum seekers 
Since the tightening of Australian policy for protection visa applicants began in the 1990s, access to health care has been increasingly restricted to asylum seekers on a range of different visa types. This paper summarises those legislative changes and discusses their implications for health policy relating to refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. Of particular concern are asylum seekers on Bridging Visas with no work rights and no access to Medicare. The paper examines several key questions: What is the current state of play, in terms of health screening and medical care policies, for asylum seekers and refugees? Relatedly, how has current policy changed from that of the past? How does Australia compare with other countries in relation to health policy for asylum seekers and refugees? These questions are addressed with the aim of providing a clear description of the current situation concerning Australian health policy on access to medical care for asylum seekers and refugees. Issues concerning lack of access to appropriate health care and related services are raised, ethical and practical issues are explored, and current policy gaps are investigated.
PMCID: PMC1282570  PMID: 16212674

Results 1-2 (2)