Victoria has introduced a program to offer complimentary healthcare services to individuals escaping the conflict between Israel and Gaza. Announced by the state’s health minister, Mary-Anne Thomas, this initiative aims to provide a comprehensive range of healthcare services to those affected by the conflict who do not qualify for Medicare due to their visa status. Starting Saturday, the beneficiaries will have access to essential healthcare, mental health support, and language services.
This initiative expands upon New South Wales’ earlier announcement, which provided a variety of free healthcare services to refugees, including emergency hospital care and mental health support. Victoria’s program, however, offers a broader scope of services, encompassing public hospital care, dental services, maternal and child health services, community health providers, and specialized support for refugees and asylum seekers.
The Victorian government has begun informing healthcare providers about this new program, emphasizing its alignment with existing support for asylum seekers and refugees. Mary-Anne Thomas expressed pride in supporting newcomers facing the challenges of displacement and trauma by ensuring access to vital public healthcare services. The anticipated beneficiaries are mainly women and children, who may have unaddressed health needs, including those related to chronic conditions and trauma. The program also encourages health services to provide vaccinations for influenza and COVID-19.
Dr. Mohamad Assoum, a global health specialist, praised Victoria’s commitment and urged other regions to adopt similar measures. Highlighting the dire health situations of individuals coming from Gaza, Assoum pointed out the severe malnutrition, dehydration, and traumatic injuries they face due to the conflict and blockades. He emphasized the importance of addressing the physical and mental health challenges, especially among children affected by the violence.
In response to the Gaza crisis, the Australian federal government has issued temporary visas to affected individuals from both Israel and Palestine, providing them a means to seek refuge in Australia, albeit without access to Medicare and other settlement services typically offered to permanent residents.