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NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors

Providing Holistic Support to Torture and Refugee Trauma Survivors during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Best Practice Examples from Australia and Europe

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Annette Carnemalm
Psychologist, Swedish Red Cross

Rudy Gonzalez
General Manager Practice Development and Learning, VFST

Lina Ishu
Youth Team Leader, STARTTS

This Clinical Master Class, held on 22 July 2020, explored how three torture and trauma rehabilitation services from Australia and Europe quickly adapted from face-to-face to remote services, to be able to respond to the unique challenges faced by survivors of torture and refugee trauma during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These impacts were specifically colossal for vulnerable groups of our society such as refugees. In addition to the day-to-day impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, refuges were faced with additional challenges such as having resettlement put on hold, to delays in the progress of their applications, as well as triggers of their previous trauma and multiple losses. These challenges intensified existing symptoms of PTSD, anxiety and depression, grief reactions, and created further panic, anxiety and fear regarding Covid-19 pandemic. It was a challenge for organisations who provide support and rehabilitation services for refugees, as most were forced to quickly adjust from face-to-face services to providing interventions using remote technology. The presentations by three highly competent national and international speakers were followed by a Q&A panel discussion with active participation from the audience.

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