The NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors
STARTTS is a specialist, not-for-profit organisation that was established in 1988. It provides culturally relevant psychological treatment and support, and community interventions, to help people and communities heal the scars of torture and refugee trauma and rebuild their lives in Australia. STARTTS also fosters a positive recovery environment through the provision of training to services, advocacy and policy work.
A world where survivors of torture and refugee trauma can heal and lead connected and fulfilling lives in dignity and health, and ultimately, the eradication of torture and refugee trauma.
To develop and implement ways to facilitate the healing process of survivors of torture and refugee trauma in order to assist them to regain their ability to live fulfilling lives, and to support and resource organisations who work with them to provide appropriate, effective and culturally sensitive services, while actively supporting the global effort to prevent and eradicate torture.
Why does STARTTS exist?
A large number of the refugees coming to Australia have been exposed to traumatic events, and most will have experienced multiple traumas, including war and violence, deprivation, and the death or disappearance of loved ones. Many will also have been subjected to torture or severe human rights violations. The physical consequences of torture and trauma are many, ranging from chronic pain to heart problems. However, it is the psychological and social effects that are often the most distressing and difficult to deal with. They can range from depression and anxiety to family conflict and breakdown. This comes on top of the demands associated with leaving behind a familiar environment and coming to a country with a different language, culture and systems. In addition, people from refugee and refugee-like backgrounds are coping with the normal ups and downs that all human beings face. Despite the amazing resilience of people with refugee experiences and the many contributions they make to Australian society, they will often need specialised assistance to overcome the effects of their experiences. With some help, people who have experienced torture and refugee trauma are more likely to live fruitful and fulfilling lives.
“Since 1988 STARTTS has assisted 81,993 people from 173 countries heal the
scars of torture and refugee trauma and rebuild their lives in Australia.”
STARTTS has grown significantly from its start as a specialist team within an Area Health Service in 1988 to a separately-governed organisation in 2009 with over two hundred full and part-time staff working from ten different offices and a range of outreach locations in metropolitan Sydney and in rural and regional areas of NSW.
- The ongoing pursuit of excellence in the development of high quality, culturally sensitive, innovative and appropriate services comparable to the best in the world.
- A client centred holistic approach that encourages innovative and creative solutions to needs identified by clients at all levels of the social system.
- A vision of our clients as survivors who have enormous potential to give, as well as pressing needs to be fulfilled.
- The condemnation and prevention of human rights violations.
- Impartiality and confidentiality of service provision.
- The complementary use of clinical and community development approaches.
- The active sharing and dissemination, state-wide, nationally and internationally of expertise and knowledge developed through our research and work in the clinical, community development and training areas.
- The pursuit of partnerships with other service providers at local, national and international level to address the needs of the target group.
- The pursuit of change in existing structures and the social environment to ensure that they provide favourable conditions for refugee resettlement
- The empowerment of clients, refugee communities and staff through culturally sensitive, participatory and consultative management processes at all levels.
- The provision of a supportive and caring work environment, which recognizes the impact of this work on helpers and the need for strategies that help prevent burnout.
- The maintenance of a fair, safe and productive environment for staff and clients through the pursuit of a positive staff culture and the implementation of Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) policies and other human rights instruments.