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NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors

Witness to War – Multilingual telephone line launched to assist NSW residents impacted by overseas conflict


IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Witness to War provides free, independent and confidential support and assists individuals and families in NSW directly exposed or otherwise impacted by overseas conflict.

Assistance provided through a free, multilingual telephone line staffed by bicultural support workers may involve initial support, information provision and referral.

As a humanitarian service, Witness to War will focus on the Afghan and Ukrainian communities, based on the understanding that conflicts can have detrimental impacts locally.

Research shows that global conflicts and crises impact Australian communities in different ways. Individuals and families directly exposed to or impacted by overseas conflicts may experience stress, anxiety or become fearful.

In accordance with STARTTS’ specialist model of service provision, Witness to War works on the knowledge that individuals, families and communities directly exposed or otherwise impacted by overseas conflicts may present a range of health, social and other issues.

Established as a successful pilot program in May 2018, Witness to War delivered specialised trainings and information sessions and engaged with numerous community groups and individuals in NSW.

The trauma-informed program will continue to provide information and referral support services to assist individuals and families to access and navigate the existing service system.

“This is a critical service the NSW Government is backing to support our Ukrainian community and others affected by conflicts overseas,” said Minister for Seniors and Multiculturalism, Hon. Mark Coure MP.

“This service is also a gateway to other specialised and mainstream assistance,” Minister Coure said.

“The dedicated staff working at STARTTS are experienced in helping people through trauma related to war and violence.”

“The funding of this program is really timely,” said STARTTS CEO and Clinical Psychologist, Jorge Aroche.

“STARTTS long experience assisting communities affected by humanitarian crises has shown, time and time again, that providing the space to allow people to talk about the impact of situations overseas and channelling them onto appropriate sources of help where required can make a huge difference in terms of how well they are able to cope as individuals, families and communities.

“We have also learnt that the sooner we can do this, the better it works.”

Witness to War is funded by Multicultural NSW and will be delivered by STARTTS up until January 2023.

STARTTS is currently recruiting support workers from a variety of cultural backgrounds to better access CALD communities, a recommendation of the pilot evaluation report (2019).

The program will continue to work closely with relevant community groups to resource and assist them in their efforts to support their communities.

Operating from Monday-Friday 9am-4pm, the free telephone service is open to all people affected by overseas conflict and can be accessed by calling 1800 845 198 within NSW.


For more information about Witness to War click here.

Media inquiries:  Karen Collier, call 9646 6700

STARTTS is a specialist, not-for-profit affiliated health and human rights 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.

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