Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT) is our March Member of the Month!
Each month we will be highlighting the value and diversity of our members and the fantastic work they do in the community mental health sector.
Read on below to learn more about QPASTT, including their history, values and mission.
Please tell us a little bit about your organisation?
The Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT) is a Queensland community based service providing counselling, support and community development activities for refugee survivors of torture and trauma at an individual, family and community level. We work within a strong human rights and recovery framework and seek to address the multiple issues of loss that typify the experience of becoming a refugee, as well as the added issues of psychological recovery from torture and trauma. QPASTT works with children, young people, adults and families. As the Queensland based member of the Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT), we are one of eight specialist torture and trauma agencies across Australia. QPASTT provides services to enhance the health, wellbeing and rights of people from refugee backgrounds in Queensland who have experienced torture or other traumatic events in their country or origin or while seeking safety. All our services are free and confidential.
What are three words to describe your organisation?
• Trauma Recovery
• Culturally responsive
• Community informed
How/why/when did your organisation get started?
In the lead up to QPASTT’s establishment in 1995, there had been a growing momentum for a national program to support survivors of torture and trauma. Research had demonstrated that there were long term impacts of unmet mental health issues as a result of trauma from a refugee experience. In response, a range of specialised services had been established in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra and Perth.
In Queensland, in 1991, the Brisbane Women’s Health Centre initiated a broad consultation with refugee background communities. This was in response to a group of Latin-American women’s expressions of concern about areas in which their needs as refugee survivors of torture & trauma were not being met. Following this, the Brisbane Refugee Torture and Trauma Research and Support Project was created under the auspice of the Brisbane Women’s Health Centre early in 1992. A small amount of funds were obtained from the Consumer Health Forum of Australia and a research and support project was undertaken with four language groups in Brisbane – Spanish speaking, Farsi speaking, Vietnamese speaking and Khmer speaking.
The primary aim of the project was to provide a mechanism so that survivors from these communities could themselves express their needs in relation to recovery and resettlement. A central element of the research methodology was the emotional support provided to the research participants. A clear picture was formed about the needs of refugee survivors of torture and trauma. A report documenting the findings was produced, and it formed the blueprint for the establishment of QPASTT
ln December 1994, the Federal government established the national funding program PASTT (Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma) and asked the Brisbane Refugee Torture & Trauma Research and Support Group to establish a new community based service for survivors of torture and trauma in Queensland. QPASTT opened its doors in 1995, auspiced by the Brisbane Migrant Resource Centre.
What inspires your work and what sets your organisation apart from everyone else?
QPASTT works to provide recovery from trauma at the individual, family and community level. Our work towards recovery requires a framework of understanding which brings together awareness of historical, political and social influences, both past and present, which affect lives on a daily basis. Our conceptual framework for trauma recovery is based on an understanding that survivors’ wellbeing is affected by a complex interplay of their history of torture and other traumatic events, the risk and protective factors they encounter in Australia (the host country), and cross cultural factors at play in a new settlement environment. It is underpinned by four recovery goals which result from an analysis of the impact of torture and other traumatic events. Our work is inspired and informed by the community and community members that we work alongside.
Where does your organisation provide services? What type of services are offered?
QPASTT provides services in several regions across Queensland where people from refugee backgrounds are being resettled.
- QPASTT offers:
- Individual and Family Counselling
- Group Work
- Community Development
- Capacity Building
We provide services in our offices, at outreach places such us other organisations, schools and TAFEs. In some highly justify circumstances QPASTT would also offer home visits.
How many employees do you have? How many offices, and where are they located?
QPASTT has about 70 employees. QPASTT main office is in Woolloongabba. We also have an office in Logan, Inala and Toowoomba and a presence in Gatton, Gold Coast, Townsville and Cairns. QPASTT staff also does relevant outreach in Brisbane North, Goodna, Redbank Plans, Ipswich and other areas of primary or secondary settlement.
Looking forward, what do you see as the main challenges/opportunities for your organisation, and why?
With the retirement of Tracy Worrall, our long time Chief Executive, the board has established an exciting and innovative Co-CEO model of leadership. Jamila Padhee (Co-CEO Quality & Innovation) will be in charge of the day-to-day management of QPASTT programs and services, ensuring that our organisation is responsive to individual and community needs and delivering quality services. Ignacio Correa-Velez (Co-CEO Impact & Innovation) will ensure that QPASTT is achieving meaningful outcomes in trauma recovery and that we are able to demonstrate this through research, evaluation, advocacy and policy influence. The Co-CEO roles are conjoined – without quality, impact cannot be achieved. Without impact, there is no true quality.
Tell us something about your organisation that most people wouldn’t know?
QPASTT staff are from 30 different countries of origin and we love the opportunity to learn from each other and enrich ourselves. One of our favourite ways of learning about each other’s cultural background is through sharing food. Three times a year, we have a week off client work for internal professional development, and we use this opportunity to have a shared lunch. It is really amazing and exciting to taste the different foods. We are very lucky.