OOFRAS aims to contribute to public debate by highlighting the occupational needs and rights of displaced people.

OOFRAS aims to comment on the occupational implications of public debate, policy, and politics to help the respect, protect and fulfil these occupational needs and rights.

OOFRAS aims to educate and engage our profession, policy and practice partners and the public.


It takes two to speak the truth - one to speak another to hear

Media Release 

07/08/13 (Australia) Call to fund interpreters for allied health to provide primary mental health care.

General practitioners who use interpreters to meet the health needs of our newest Australians can't access the "Better Access to Mental Health" scheme for their patients. Referrals as part of a mental health plan to a Medicare registered occupational therapist, psychologist, or social worker fail because allied health are not funded to use interpreters. 

OOFRAS member Ms Linda Rylands reports "this disparity in interpreter funding leaves no other option and mental health problems spill over into other aspects of health and day-to-day function." Citing an occupational therapy career that has covered both mental health and settlement sectors, she notes "It is short sighted to deny access to primary mental health care at the same time as people need to learn English and new life skills to participate in Australia, the result is social exclusion."

Mr Robert Cox chair of the Occupational Therapy Australia's Refugee Settlement Special Interest Group (RS SIG), confirms "New arrivals can't afford to employ private interpreters, and the alternative of using a family member with better English is unethical, unprofessional, and unsafe for the provision of mental health care. Access and equity concerns about the lack of funding for interpreters has been tabled in the RS SIG as a professional concern". 

On the 31st July the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Senator Kate Lundy released the multicultural access and equity requirements and plans stating "Government programs and services should be accessible by all Australians and responsive to their needs regardless of their cultural and linguistic backgrounds."  

OOFRAS Inc is hosting a petition to highlight the lack of access to the "Better Access to Mental Health" initiative for new arrivals. The access and equity policy is welcomed, however "making allied health eligible for interpreter funding just ensures it actually works in practice." President Clarissa Adriel said.

More information

Petition to Language Policy Liaison of Translating & Interpreting Service (TIS): Fund interpreters for allied health to provide primary mental health care

Background Brief to the call for the call to fund interpreters for allied health to provide primary mental health care.

Response from the Department of Immigration & Citizenship

19/07/13 (Australia) Occupational deprivation is not a solution.

The Australian government's plan to detain asylum seekers arriving by boat, and settle those found to be refugees in Papua New Guinea, is strongly condemed by the 297 Australians represented in the Occupational Opportunities for Refugees & Asylum Seeker (OOFRAS) Inc network. 

"Occupational deprivation is not a solution." OOFRAS President Clarissa Adriel says, "As occupational therapists, we highlight the fact that human rights are not words on paper. They are verbs that hinge on opportunities to participate. Detention is an obvious case of occupational deprivation because a wire fence physically excludes people from participating in community life."

The group also assert that settling refugees in Papua New Guinea without a settlement framework, or legal protection of rights supporting participation across a range of life roles such as work and education is a human rights abuse. OOFRAS member Susan Cloete works in the settlement sector in Australia says "barriers to participation in the community may not be as visible as a wire fence, but have the same corrosive impact on participation, which creates ill health and disability."

79 Australian occupational therapists have registered their dissent with the government's use of occupational deprivation in the new asylum seeker policy. The dissent is curated on a Google Map administered by OOFRAS board member Amanda Tuckerman who reports, "The government is counting on people being harmed and effectively unable to meet basic occupational needs and rights, to deter future  boat arrivals. The political use of occupational deptivation in this way, and the profession's silence on this matter must stop." 

In 2012 the World Federation of Occupational Therapists issued a position paper on Human Displacement that gives mandate for the occupational therapists to educate their profession, partners and public. "We're thrilled the Dissent Google Map has been viewed 3131 times " Amanda says "it's the first of it's kind in our profession"

More information

Occupational Justice is Not a Solution - Google Map

World Federation of Occuaptional Therapists position paper on Human Displacement

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