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Core concepts in working with people from refugee backgrounds

Event Details
Date: 23rd Aug 2019
Venue: Sydney, NSW
CPD hrs: 7

Concession: $199

Standard: $249

Organiser: STARTTS

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This one-day workshop is designed to put a framework of understanding around working with people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds. It focuses on understanding the link between what refugees have been through, the impact of torture and other traumatic events, the stressors of detention, resettlement and cultural transition. It explores how to work in a trauma informed and culturally competent way that promotes recovery and fosters feelings of trust, safety and control, while minimising the risk of retraumatisation. Participants will be encouraged to think about how to apply the concepts to their own workplace, and will leave the workshop feeling more confident in utilising their skills and experience with people from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds.

Workshop program

  • The refugee experience
  • Impact of torture and other traumatic events
  • The stressors of resettlement and cultural transition
  • The stressors of seeking asylum in Australia
  • Cultural competence
  • Working within a recovery framework
  • Vicarious trauma and self care

Learning objectives

  • To understand the impact of torture and other types of refugee traumatic experiences on resettlement process
  • To understand what is meant by a refugee trauma informed approach and how this translates to the workplace
  • To understand cultural competence
  • To be able to apply the key principles above to the workplace of the participant
  • To know how to recognise and manage symptoms of vicarious trauma and burnout

Presenter details

Dr Joshua Bird is a STARTTS Training Officer and has over fifteen years’ experience working in international development, human rights and academia—with a particular focus on ethnic minorities and vulnerable groups in the Asia-Pacific. He has worked in this capacity across Asia - including China, Vietnam and Thailand. He is a qualified lawyer, with degrees in Law and Arts from the University of Technology, Sydney and a Master of Asia-Pacific Studies from the Australian National University. In 2016 he became the first graduate from the University of Sydney's China Studies Centre PhD program. His first book 'Economic Development in China's Northwest: Entrepreneurship and Identity Along China’s Multi-ethnic Borderland' was published by Routledge in 2017. His past roles include positions with the University of Sydney, AusAID, the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law, the Fred Hollows Foundation and ChildFund Australia.

Dr Lydia Gitau is currently working as a Training Officer at NSW STARTTS, and as a part-time lecturer at the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney. She has previously worked as a counsellor and a lecturer in various universities in Kenya, East Africa. Lydia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education, a Higher Diploma in Counselling Psychology, a Masters in International Relations, and a PhD from the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, exploring trauma interventions for South Sudanese Refugees in Kakuma Refugee Camp. Lydia was the recipient of the 2014-2015 International Peace Research (IPRA) Foundation’s Graduate Fellowship, and the 2014 Postgraduate Teaching Fellowship of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Sydney. She is interested in examining and engaging in the post-conflict interventions that have potential to support long-lasting peace for survivors of conflict and mass violence.

Location and date


23 August 2019


Concession: $199

Standard: $249



AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers