We are writing to you because we know that you have close links to those within your community, some of whom might be significantly affected by the results of the recent federal election.
Understandably, many people seeking asylum or currently on temporary visas such as Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs) and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEVs) were hopeful of a change of government because the Australian Labour Party platform proposed significant policy changes. It is now unlikely that thee will be any significant policy change in the near future.
Members of your community in this situation might have approached you already and told you about feeling distressed and hopeless. Some may express ideas of self-harm or tell you of poor sleep, fear, anxiety or you can observe that they have withdrawn from community activities.
We are sure you are taking these difficulties seriously and would like to encourage you to consider the following options:
- If you are faced with a community member at imminent risk of self-harm, please contact 000.
- If you are very concerned about someone’s mental health, it is after hours and they have spoken of harming themselves, please contact The Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511. The Mental Health Line is a 24-hour telephone service operating seven days a week across NSW.
- If you are concerned about someone’s mental health during office hours, you can also contact the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) on (02) 9646 6800and ask for the Intake Officer.
We recognise that caring for others is an important part of being a good community leader. However, you need to make sure you are looking after yourself. You can only help others if you are well.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or distressed yourself, please feel free to contact STARTTS on (02) 9646 6700. You can speak to the STARTTS staff you may already be connected with or ask for the Community Development Team Leader or Community Services Coordinator. They will make sure you receive the support you need as a community leader.
STARTTS can also organise Accidental Counsellor Training for community leaders. This training can help you learn new ways of supporting community members in distress and give guidance on making referrals to mental health services. You can talk to STARTTS staff if you would like to attend this training. It is free of charge and can be delivered in different locations.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that when people are distressed and confused, it is easy for them to misunderstand things or seek information from unreliable sources. Please keep track of the updates on the Refugee Council of Australia and Refugee Advice and Casework Service websites as these will be well informed and reliable.
Another reliable source of information for your community members would be their lawyers and it is important that they keep in touch with them.