FoRAS: Friends of Refugees as Survivors

A Memorandum of Understanding between Refugees as Survivors (RAS) and the Rotary Club of Wellington in February 2004 established Friends of Refugees as Survivors (FoRAS) and also a relationship whereby the Rotary Club of Wellington could provide support and professional development for key people in RAS. The goals of FoRAS are to help create awareness of RAS in the wider community, provide business mentoring for RAS projects and raise funds for agreed projects.  FoRAS is formally a sub-committee of RAS.

The Board decided in April 2009 to continue the relationship with RAS and FoRAS, on the basis of a revised MOU, moving to a less formal relationship from the end of June 2011.

The President of RCW will appoint three members to FoRAS for the years through to end of June 2011; and from then the Rotarians will shoulder tap their replacements (encouraged to be from Rotary).

The Board agreed to support organising one more profile-raising and fundraising event for RAS in 2009 (subject to Fundraising and Finance Committee Chair agreement of a time in the Club calendar); agreed that RAS/FoRAS is eligible to apply for RCW funding from time to time and agreed to invite RAS to speak at an RCW meeting annually. 

Wellington Refugees as Survivvors
Primary Objectives
The main mission of the centre is to provide refugees and migrants who have experience of torture and trauma with access to appropriate mental health services, in order to lessen the negative impact of these events on their lives and therefore assist in their resettlement and adjustment within New Zealand.
Main Activities
The centre provides community-based screening, assessment, treatment/therapy, and onward referral, and also medical reviews by a consultant psychiatrist.
Care management includes co-ordination of services from other agencies. Liaison/consultation takes place with general practitioners, mental health workers, and support workers (including ethnic community workers) to support community management of clients and the supervision of other staff.
The treatment methods used are eclectic and include CBT, Gestalt, narrative, problem solving, and other client-centred approaches appropriate to client needs and informed by cultural differences.
In the year ending 30 June 2006, a total of 61 new clients had been seen, 38 by the adult team, and 16 by the Child and Youth team, comprising of 31% Iraqis, 15% Somalians, 15% Ethiopians, 11.5% Sudanese, 11.5% Ethiopians and 16% of other nationalities.
Training and education are available for staff of any agency working with refugees, where as mental health education is available for clients, caregivers, and support staff.
Training is provided by staff on issues of cultural differences, trauma, and cross-cultural mental health.
Training is provided to mainstream and NGO* mental health, education and welfare workers. Staff are mental health professionals, mainly trained as psychologist or counsellors in Bosnia, Australia, UK, France or NZ. All staff are clinically supervised by experienced external supervisors and attend regular workshops/conferences in New Zealand and Australia for upskilling.
The centre records and monitors client activity and will be part of a national mental health information project being developed by the Government's Health Information Service.
The library at the centre contains an extensive range of books and articles on refugee mental health issues that inform about the practices of the centre.
As a treatment-based service, the centre has a limited role in providing information on refugee mental health. The centre fulfils this role mainly through training and education activities based on a workshop model.
Each year, the Centre participates in relevant human rights campaigns, such as the "UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture", together with Amnesty International and UNHCR*.
The centre is based in a "one-stop shop" of 6 agencies providing services to refugees and disadvantaged migrants. This provides the centre with the opportunity for close contact with a number NGOs*.
RAS is an active participant in the Refugee Health and Well being Action Plan. This involves at least 15 government bodies and equal number of NGOs and the communities with refugee background people working together to ensure services provided for and with refugee background people are relevant.

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