Situations of vulnerability requiring particular attention
As everyone’s circumstances are different, the framework provided should be considered as a guide only. The vulnerability categories are determined as:
- Sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation
- Health and welfare concerns
- Protection needs
- Other: the interviewer can identify other vulnerability factors.
Alternatives to detention
The starting point should be to use alternatives to detention, such as community-based placement, support placement, support options and open reception facilities.
Training and capacity building
In order to effectively screen for vulnerability the required competencies consist of:
- Values and attitudes (respecting the “do no harm” principle)
- Foundational knowledge (International human rights and refugee law frameworks, local country social service systems and placement options)
- Skills (communication and interviewing strategies that build trust, obtain reliable information and clarify vulnerability in a cross-cultural context and manage expectations).
Vulnerability Screening Tool
The interviewer can recommend a level of intervention (low, medium or high) as an appropriate response to identified vulnerability.
The document includes a child welfare checklist to help identify risk of harm. The checklist is guided by the fundamental principle that the best interests of the child should be the primary consideration in all decisions affecting them.
Gender-based violence, sexual violence, family violence and abuse
The tool emphasises that it is important to consider the gender of the interviewer. Women and girls should have the option for being interviewed by women, while some men and boys may prefer to be interviewed by a woman.
Sexual orientation and gender identity
One of the grounds for being a refugee under the Refugee Convention is that a person has been persecuted on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTI identity and risk of harm is often hidden. Interviewers must work towards reducing barriers to disclosure and provide access to support.
Health and welfare concerns
Physical and mental health concerns
A timely, comprehensive and holistic health assessment by professionals with expertise in migrant or refugee health is essential. Also essential is the need to assess the risk of suicide in a non-threatening, calm and private environment.
Alternatives to detention should be considered for those with physical, mental, intellectual, psychosocial and sensory impairment, once they have been assessed.
Whilst the elderly are generally categorised by age, the Vulnerability Screening Tool recommends assessing the elderly on whether their physical and mental wellbeing due to their age affects the independent performance of day-to-day tasks such as personal hygiene.
Victim of trafficking in persons
Screening aims to facilitate an informed referral. An independent and expert assessment is needed for potential trafficking victims, often by specialists.
Individual case factors and referral to placement and support options
The next steps are to:
- Consider placement options: The preferred approach is for the individual to be living independently in the community in private accommodation or a supported shelter. Detention should only be used in exceptional situations.
- Consider support options: Available support services should be considered to manage situations of vulnerability.
- Consider ways to strengthen resilience: Use community ties and a capacity to remain engaged in the asylum or migration procedure to build the individual’s resilience in all cases. Strengthening resilience is key in allowing the individual to remain active in the migration process and better able to consider departure if required.
- Final decision-making and referral: The individual should understand how to access help when needed.