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Companion House Assisting Survivors of Torture and Trauma Working with people from a refugee background Glenn Flanagan.

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Presentation on theme: "Companion House Assisting Survivors of Torture and Trauma Working with people from a refugee background Glenn Flanagan."— Presentation transcript:

1 Companion House Assisting Survivors of Torture and Trauma Working with people from a refugee background Glenn Flanagan

2 Companion House Companion House is a government funded community-based organisation. It was established in 1989 to care for survivors of torture and trauma who have sought refuge in Australia.

3 Companion House services Medical Service Counselling and Advocacy (Early Intervention, General Services and Childrens Services) Complementary therapy Community Development Training and Community Awareness Immigration Advice and Application Assistance Ph: web:

4 What do you value most in your life?

5 Who is a refugee?

6 A refugee is someone who: Owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him or herself of the protection of that country. (United Nations High Commission for Refugees Convention)

7 The Refugee Experience

8 Pre-flight

9 The Refugee Experience Flight/Exile

10 The Refugee Experience Refugee Camps

11 The Refugee Experience Settlement

12 What is unique about the refugee experience?

13 Australias refugee and humanitarian program Total for : 13,750 OnshoreOffshore Authorised arrivals - With documents and visas Mainstream refugee visas (200), women at risk (204) 6,000 Unauthorised arrivals - No documents, visas Special Humanitarian Program (202) -Must be supported by a proposer -Proposer pays airfare and organises housing -7,750

14 Trauma

15 . Traumatic events overwhelm the ordinary systems of care that give people a sense of control, connection and meaning Trauma impacts on the individual, the family and the community. Trauma and Recovery Judith Herman

16 Key Components of the Trauma Reaction / Effects of trauma Anxiety Feelings of helplessness Loss of control Relationships changed Grief Depression Shattering of previously held assumptions: Loss of trust Meaning, identity & future Shame Guilt

17 Social & psychological experiences which lead to the trauma reaction Core components of the trauma reaction Chronic Fear Chronic Alarm Inescapability Unpredictability Disruption of connections to family, friends, community & cultural beliefs Anxiety Feelings of hopelessness Loss of control Relationships changed Grief Depression Destruction of central values of human existence Humiliation and degradation Shattering of previously held assumptions: Loss of trust, meaning, identity & future Guilt Shame Acts perpetrated by the persecutory regime Violence Killings Assaults Disappearances Death Separation Isolation Prohibition of traditional practices Deprivation of human rights Killing on mass scale Exposure to boundless human brutality Invasion of personal boundaries Impossible choices

18 Social & psychological experiences which lead to the trauma reaction Core components of the trauma reaction Chronic Fear Chronic Alarm Inescapability Unpredictability Disruption of connections to family, friends, community & cultural beliefs Anxiety Feelings of hopelessness Loss of control Relationships changed Grief Depression Destruction of central values of human existence Humiliation and degradation Shattering of previously held assumptions: Loss of trust, meaning, identity & future Guilt Shame Settlement Challenges Ongoing danger in country of origin New unfamiliar environment Fear about the future Continuing separation from family Loss of belonging in new dominant culture Devaluing of person in new culture Injustices Exposure to ignorance and lack of understanding Racial prejudice Inability to communicate Reliance on others and services

19 Social & psychological experiences which lead to the trauma reaction Core components of the trauma reaction Chronic Fear Chronic Alarm Inescapability Unpredictability Disruption of connections to family, friends, community & cultural beliefs Anxiety Feelings of hopelessness Loss of control Relationships changed Grief Depression Destruction of central values of human existence Humiliation and degradation Shattering of previously held assumptions: Loss of trust, meaning, identity & future Guilt Shame The Recovery Goals Restore safety Enhance control Reduce fear & anxiety Restore attachment & connections to others Offer emotional support and care Restore meaning and purpose to life Restore dignity & value Reduce excessive shame & guilty

20 Working cross culturally

21 There are many challenges which can arise with settlement Trauma, the refugee experience and culture shock are all significant in their impact Culture is protective and fosters well being, and cultural expression can be important We should always be careful not to create cultural stereotypes, make generalizations or single out communities

22 Working cross culturally Acknowledge the strengths and resilience of individuals, families and communities Build relationships and trust with communities, families and individuals Recognize that people from a refugee background are working cross culturally already Use interpreters to ensure safety and dignity

23 Summary Helplessness and isolation are the core experiences of psychological trauma Empowerment and reconnection are the core experiences of recovery Judith Herman Trauma and Recovery


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