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

The Crucial Role of Australia’s Torture and Refugee Trauma Rehabilitation Services in Responding to the Afghanistan Crisis

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Nooria Mehraby
Senior Clinician/Trainer

Claudia Thoms

Four decades of war and unrest in Afghanistan have had, and continue to have, a profound impact on all aspects of life in Afghanistan. Millions have fled the country, are internally displaced or have lost their lives. The current crisis, due to the fall of the country to the Taliban in late 2021, saw a major rescue operation, where over 4000 Afghans were who were at high risk, were evacuated to Australia. The crisis has also had a significant impact on the Afghan diaspora in Australia, many of whom are still dealing with deep physical and psychological scars of their traumatic experiences. Many have experienced re-traumatisation with severe posttraumatic symptoms, grief and loss reactions, acute anguish, anger, resentment, survivor guilt, anxiety and depression. Concern about family members in Afghanistan who are at risk but cannot leave Afghanistan, as well as the pressure to provide financial support to them, are additional sources of stress. This has placed an enormous demand on service providers.

This Clinical Master Class, held on 23 March 2022, explored how torture and refugee trauma treatment and rehabilitation services in Australia responded to this major crisis. Claudia Thoms, an AHPRA registered psychologist who has worked with survivors of torture and refugee trauma for over 15 years, leads the Afghan Community Response Project at the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (VFST) in Melbourne. Claudia will focus on the VFST therapeutic work with Afghan arrivals and outlined how counsellors work closely alongside Afghan community project workers to meet the needs related to settlement during the early stages of trauma recovery. Nooria Mehraby, a Senior Clinician/ Clinical Trainer and a former Afghan refugee with over 30 years’ experience with refugees, presented STARTTS’ response to the crisis in Afghanistan, through a holistic approach that integrates clinical and community development work.

View the two lectures and panel discussion by clicking on the course content below. When you are finished you can request the system send you a certificate of completion. The slide PDFs are available in the Materials tab.

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