News » Meet Jamuna Parajuli PhD, our Refugee Health Nurse

Meet Jamuna Parajuli PhD, our Refugee Health Nurse

Refugee Week is an annual celebration, informing the public about refugees and celebrating their contributions to the community. The 2023 theme is Finding Freedom, honouring the dangerous journeys refugees make to find safety and freedom for themselves and their families. In honour of Refugee Week, we sat down with our incredible Refugee Health Nurse, Jamuna Parajuli PhD.

Tell us about your role at Your Community Health?

I have been working at Your Community Health for the last 15 years. I play a central role in providing comprehensive, culturally appropriate and quality health services for newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers who are residing in the city of Darebin and neighboring LGAs such as Merri-bek and Banyule.

This role centres around achieving the broad aims of the Victorian refugee health program:

    • Increasing refugee access to primary healthcare services such as GP services, oral health, allied health, counselling, immunisation, women’s health, and hospitals; also linking them to appropriate settlement support through interaction, partnership, and referrals.
    • Improving response of health care services through the provision of culturally sensitive services for newly arrived refugee and asylum seekers.
    • Enabling refugee individuals, families and communities to improve their health and wellbeing through evidence-based health promotion and health literacy programs.
    • Building the capacity and expertise of healthcare practitioners to respond to refugees’ complex healthcare and social support needs.

To achieve these aims, I closely work in partnership with settlement coordinators and other healthcare providers and stakeholders. I also identify the service gaps and advocate to streamline healthcare services to address this gap, which is one of the most important roles that I play to support refugees and asylum seekers in our community.

Why is Refugee Week important?

Refugee Week is important not only for refugees but also for us as service providers, community members, policymakers and politicians to raise awareness about the existence and experience of refugees, their journey and most importantly, to raise awareness about their needs in settlement. Australia has a proud history of successfully resettling refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world and has become a safe home for more than 900,000 refugees so far. This week is a celebration that provides an important opportunity for refugees and asylum seekers to be seen, heard, and valued.

As an organisation, Your Community Health plays a role in making these people feel safe and confident in our care, building their trust in our connection to bring a long-lasting positive impact in their lives and for this multicultural society.

Tell us a bit about your own journey?

Like a lot of people, I came to Australia 20 years ago in search of a better life. Prior to coming to Australia, I was working in huge refugee camps and tirelessly serving refugees who had fled from their country. I worked very hard to address the humanitarian crisis, where the influx of refugees continued to come but there was no safe water to drink, no food to eat, and no shelter to sleep. Death after death, mass graves…I witnessed all of those. I was one of the first nurses working in that harsh situation.

Interestingly, this was my first job and even after 30 years I am still working for a similar cohort but in a different context. Today I feel very proud, I am grateful to be able to serve the people who are my passion and close to my heart, who are in need of help. I proudly and loudly say that I always feel this work is more than my job. I take this work as a rare opportunity for limitless learning and growth as a human being to embrace divinity, power, and purity within.

The 2023 theme is Finding Freedom, tell us what that means to you?

For a refugee, finding freedom may include:

    • Escaping persecution: many refugees flee their home countries to seek safety and protection from persecution, violence, or discrimination based on their ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, or other factors. Finding Freedom reflects their quest for a life where they can exercise their basic human rights and live without fear.
    • Journey to safety: acknowledges the difficult and often dangerous journey refugees undertake to find a safe haven. This journey might involve crossing borders, navigating unfaithful terrains, or enduring harsh conditions. Finding Freedom recognises the resilience and determination of refugees as they strive to reach a place where they can rebuild their lives.
    • Overcoming challenges: refugees face numerous challenges when they arrive in a new country. They must adapt to a different culture, language, and socioeconomic environment. Finding Freedom underscores the strength and resilience of refugees as they overcome these hurdles, develop new skills, and contribute to their host communities.
    • Building a new life: once refugees find a place of refuge, they embark on a journey of rebuilding their lives. This phase involves accessing education, healthcare, employment, and social integration. Finding Freedom highlights the transformative process through which refugees reclaim agency, rebuild their identities, and contribute to the social fabric of their host societies.
    • Celebrating diversity: the theme also emphasizes the importance of embracing diversity and promoting inclusivity. It encourages communities to recognize the unique experiences, skills, and perspectives that refugees bring, enriching the cultural tapestry of their new homes. Finding Freedom calls for fostering an environment where everyone can thrive and contribute to society irrespective of their background.

Any final mentions?

I have no hesitation to tell you that Your Community Health is an organisation that is very sensitive, proactive and supportive of refugees’ healthcare needs and I feel proud to be a part of the team. This can be a very challenging role, especially listening to people’s traumatic stories. At times, I melted with their needs and situation. I see myself as a doer. I work hard and I connect high, and I value what I do, that’s how I keep sustaining myself as almost a solo worker in a challenging role like this. I must admit that despite the challenges, this work is very satisfying and rewarding for me as I feel I am a voice for voiceless and, a help for the helpless and a support for their successful settlement in their new country.


    • Victorian Multicultural Excellence Award 2017 for exceptional contributions and services for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (Meritorious award)
    • Your Community Health Excellence Award 2022 for exceptional work in refugee health.