Celebrating Refugee Week – The G11 group

20/Jun/2022     HealthMater Group

Ally Wakefield has devoted her professional life to supporting people who’ve experienced challenges many of us could only even imagine.

With more than 20 years’ experience, including with the Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT), she considers herself privileged to work with Brisbane’s refugee background communities.

“I have always loved multi-cultural communities. They are so inspiring, talented, often they’ll speak five languages. They’ve had a difficult journey, but they bring all these strengths with them,” Ally said.

As the Mater Refugee Health Capacity Building and Resource Coordinator, Ally leads the G11 — a dynamic and passionate team of 11 refugee health consultants from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Liberia, Burandi, Rwanda, Eritrea, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Myanmar.

Each consultant has a professional health background in areas such as social work, nursing, midwifery, interpreting, juvenile justice, dietetics, disability or child protection, and operates as a bridge between their own refugee background community and the health system.

“They have their ears on the ground listening to the health issues, and we try to respond to those needs. We pass information to them, and they pass it to their communities,” she said.

“They have had experiences where they can see so many opportunities for employment and providing for their families — they’re so motivated to do the very best they can for everyone.”

The team supports the Brisbane and Logan regions, providing advice to clinicians and Queensland Health about a range of issues, while building health literacy and access to services within their communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for communities to navigate, however the G11 has led a consistently quick response, ensuring translated information is shared quickly and via culturally appropriate pathways including one-on-one sessions, group events, workshops and social media.

"I’m so inspired by the people we work with and support, and the big things is being there and listening to them and trying to work out what they need, and then finding a pathway to provide for what they need.”

The G11 is auspiced by Mater Refugee Health and based on meeting unmet need across the community.

“We are committed to mercy and dignity, and we value everyone who comes into our service.”

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