The Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors (ASeTTS)
The Association for Services to Torture and Trauma Survivors (ASeTTS) has a proud history of serving humanitarian entrants and refugees settling in WA since 1992.
ASeTTS provides services to people who are humanitarian entrants or are from a refugee type background and who have experienced torture or trauma in their country of origin, during their flight to Australia, or while in detention.
Our FASSTT Network Partners
We continue to collaborate with, and learn from, our FASSTT (The Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma) partners to ensure innovative evidence-based services that diminish the impact of torture and trauma on survivors and enhance their opportunities to rebuild productive and meaningful lives.
FASSTT Network member agencies include:
- Companion House – ACT
- Foundation House – Victoria
- Melaleuca Refugee Centre – NT
- Phoenix Centre – Tasmania
- Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT) – Queensland
- Service for the Treatment & Rehabilitation of Torture & Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) – NSW
- Survivors of Torture and Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation Service (STTARS) – SA
United Voices (UV)
ASeTTS United Voices – Client Reference Groups is seeking Expressions of Interest from clients, their family members, community leaders and people with lived experience as refugees or survivors of torture and trauma, to participate in United Voice – Client Reference Group. If you are interested please follow the link below:
ASeTTS is committed to engaging with our clients and communities at every level of the organisation, through the United Voices client reference group.
United Voices members include ASeTTS clients, their family members, community leaders and people with lived experience as refugees or survivors of torture and trauma.
The group provides members with the opportunity to:
- explore the needs and challenges faced by ASeTTS’ clients and communities,
- identify service development and advocacy opportunities, and
- contribute to the continued improvement of ASeTTS’ services, practices and culture.
United Voices is convened by ASeTTS’ staff, and the group is attended and supported by ASeTTS’ CEO and Board.
The group is led by a member who is elected as Chairperson. The Chairperson has the opportunity to represent United Voices as a member of the ASeTTS’ Board; providing advice and feedback to the Board on specific matters relating to the experience of our clients and direction of the organisation.
ASeTTS provides holistic services for refugee survivors of torture and trauma to rebuild their lives.
Is for a more peaceful and just world where human rights are recognised, violations of human rights are challenged, and torture and trauma survivors are supported.
ASeTTS aspires to provide holistic services that assist refugee survivors of torture and trauma to rebuild their lives.
ASeTTS place importance on:
- Client Focus
Aims of ASeTTS
The objectives of ASeTTS as described by our constitution may be summarised as:
To establish, develop and maintain services:
Which respond to the specific cultural and spiritual needs, as well as the gender-related, linguistic and age specific needs of torture and trauma survivors (who are often refugees and may be from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) populations) and their families living in Australia;
- Which facilitate the ability of torture and trauma survivors to heal themselves;
- Which promote overall well-being of all torture and trauma survivors in whatever way is appropriate to the individuals concerned;
- Of a professional standard which are affordable and accessible to all torture and trauma survivors and their families regardless of age, sex, race, religion, political beliefs or lifestyle;
- Guided by the expressed needs of the service users arising out of the constitution as identified by the service users themselves and developed with input from those service users.
To carry out training, advocacy, and awareness raising and in doing so:
- Work with other organisations to carry out and encourage research and collect information, based on sound ethical guidelines, about the needs of torture and trauma survivors and their families in the community
- Educate, train and sensitise service providers and promote public awareness on the needs of and difficulties experienced by torture and trauma survivors and their families;
- Inform and to reinforce the rights of the service users as members of Australian society;
- Act as a human and material resource.
ASeTTS Diversity and Inclusion Policy
ASeTTS is committed to providing a workplace and services that respect and value diverse customs, cultures and beliefs; and prevents harassment or discrimination of any kind. While our services are delivered to people from refugee-like backgrounds who come from different countries of origin and language groups, we support the human rights of all people and recognise the unique needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with disability, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/gender diverse, queer, or intersex (LGBTQI).
ASeTTS Statement of Commitment to Child Safety
ASeTTS is committed to providing and actively promoting a safe environment for children.
We have zero tolerance towards child abuse, and are committed to protecting the physical, emotional, cultural and social wellbeing of all children.
We have adopted a Child Safe Policy, outlining our commitment to upholding, endorsing and promoting the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations (hyperlink to https://childsafe.humanrights.gov.au/national-principles/about-national-principles).
We commit to:
- Empowering children that access our services to feel safe and comfortable, including comfortable in reporting concerns of allegations of abuse.
- Reporting concerns or allegations through appropriate channels. All allegations and safety concerns are treated seriously.
- Supporting alleged victims and their families to access support services and counselling.
- Engaging and involving children when making decisions, especially about matters that directly affect them. We listen to their views and respect what they have to say.
- Employing a range of best practice screening measures in the recruitment of employees, contractors and volunteers. We carry out thorough reference checks and pre-employment screening, to ensure that we are recruiting with child safety in mind.
- Ensuring staff and volunteers are trained to identify, assess, and minimise risks of child abuse and to detect potential signs of child abuse.
We acknowledge that children’s safety is a whole of community responsibility and is everyone’s business.
ASeTTS Clients are people living in WA who were tortured or traumatised in their country of origin or whilst fleeing that country. It is estimated that state sanctioned violence occurs in over 100 countries. This experience is not confined to adults, with many child and adolescent refugees having witnessed horrific events and suffered the effects of dislocation and deprivation. Fear does not end with arrival in a safe country.
Trauma has far reaching effects – like an earthquake, it can shake the very foundations of our client’s lives. The impact can disrupt or damage the relationships that individuals have established with partners, parents, children, family and friends. It can change the way clients feel about themselves and others. In many cases, traumatic events can be internalised as ongoing anxiety and accompanied by unresolved grief and depression. For some survivors, assumptions that are central to human existence, such as trust, have been challenged by their experiences.
In addition to the above, a new arrival under the humanitarian program is faced with the daunting task of settling in a new country and dealing with the challenges of learning a new language, adapting to a new culture, arranging housing, employment and children’s schooling often without a support network of family and friends.
Our clients come from a range of countries and ethnic backgrounds and present with a variety of symptoms and issues. The effects of trauma are not always the same, even for those who have shared the same experiences. We are all individuals and therefore unique in many aspects. Our reactions and the processes we engage with towards healing are as unique as we are. ASeTTS endeavours to work alongside clients as they seek to find happiness and peace in their lives
ASeTTS Board, staff and volunteers are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds.
Ms. Gail Green – Board Chairperson
Ms. Gail Green is a Social Worker with over 40 years’ experience. She has specialised in trauma work for over 25 years and has been published twice in the Australian Social Work journal and in several other magazines as well as speaking about her work at a number of national and state conferences. Gail has a good understanding of governance issues, obtaining and managing funding budgets. Her work as a counsellor, therapist and supervisor of staff has provided her with a good working knowledge of ethical and moral challenges in trauma informed practice.
Mr. Kevin De Souza – Board Deputy Chairperson
Kevin is a practising lawyer. He grew up in Singapore and has been involved in social justice and human rights issues for nearly 40 years. He was previously involved with the UNHCR as a refugee lawyer. He served on the board of CASE for Refugees from 2005 to 2010. Kevin was previously detained as a political prisoner in Singapore and this experience continues to motivate him to participate in society, seeking the advancement of human dignity, especially among the vulnerable in our society.
Ms. Amanda Gillett – Board Secretary
Amanda is currently Manager of Community and Organisational Development at the Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre in Mirrabooka. Prior to working with MMRC, Amanda was Manager of Community Services at ASeTTS for 10 years where she was responsible for managing and developing community programs supporting the recovery journey for survivors of torture and trauma. Amanda lived in South Africa from 1993 – 2006 during which time she held several positions including Project Officer with the National Youth Development Forum, Manager of IDP Education Australia’s South African office, and Senior Program Manager with AusAID, the international development assistance arm of the Australian Government.
Mr. Vince Ianni – Board Treasurer
Mr. Vince Ianni is a Chief Financial Officer and Director of Corporate Services with over 30 years’ experience in finance and corporate sector. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and is an associate member of the Society of Certified Practicing Accountants (CPA) in Australia. Vince’s financial and corporate knowledge and experience is of benefit to the ASeTTS Board, as it strives to improve governance, financial management and the delivery of patient care to its clients.
Mr. Ray Loh – Board Director
Ray Loh has been a passionate volunteer since a young age, volunteering and holding committee positions at various charities. In his current role at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA), his work involves dealing with social issues such as Aboriginal engagement, social procurement, sustainability and so forth which will help support ASeTTS’ objectives.
Ms Jumana Jasim – Board Director
Jumana Jasim is a community volunteer, advocate and law student. Witnessing from a young age how unaddressed trauma can incapacitate every aspect of a persons life led her to her work in various organisations including UNICEF Australia and the Youth Affairs Council of WA. Jumana is committed for the voices of the young and marginalised to be reflected in board meetings.
Mr. Tony McRae – Board Director
Mr. Tony McRae has more than 30 years’ experience in public policy and community development. He was a Member of the WA Parliament for 8 years, with his Ministerial responsibilities including Citizenship and Multicultural Interests; his post-political career includes CEO, Company Secretary and Board Member of a range of companies, charitable trusts and community organisations, as well as consultant and business adviser. He has been a member and supporter of ASeTTS for many years and looks forward to contributing to its continuing development as a member-based service organisation.
Dr Paradee Thoresen – Board Director
A Thai woman who has dedicated her life to her family and community services. Before migrating to Australia in 2002, she led community development projects in remote communities in Northeast of Thailand. She also worked in human trafficking project funded by Thai Government and in Convention on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) program of UN Women. Over the past 20-years in Australia, she has worked with children and families experiencing forced migration, torture and trauma, family violence, homelessness, incarceration, mental health and drug and alcohol abuses and other issues. She has also worked directly with asylum-seeking children and their families in detentions and when they live in the community. Her PhD research project explored the needs and life experience of refugee and asylum-seeking children living in Mae Sot (border town between Thailand and Myanmar) and Bangkok. Dr Paradee has the following qualifications: BA in Community Development, MA in International Social Development, PhD in Social Work and Social Policy.
Wildaliz De Jesus Arocho – Board Director
Wildaliz has extensive experience in environmental policy and management and is also an advocate for disability inclusive teamwork particularly in the context of climate change.
Zeinab Taai – Board Director
Zeinab migrated with my family from Iraq to Australia in 1999 due to the war. While her exposure to torture is limited, she has experienced inter-generational trauma of displacement. Zeinab is a provisional psychologist, and has completed training in complex trauma – an areas she would like to develop further. Her experience as a psychologist has assisted her to have better understanding of her personal trauma and how that has impacted her and may impact her own children. Zeinab is passionate about helping her community understand the impact of trauma.
Ms. Merissa Van Der Linden – CEO
Merissa joined ASeTTS in 2020. She has over 20-years of experience in human services including hands-on, leadership and governance roles within for-purpose community and disability service organisations, state government, and with the national peak for the disability services sector, most recently she was the head of the Quality Safety Health and Environment portfolio at Activ Foundation and remains the Deputy Chair of Midlas.
Merissa is passionate about supporting people, families and communities, and is energised by supporting people to access quality supports to improve their wellbeing, safety, agency and their enjoyment of human rights. Merissa has tertiary qualifications in Fine Art, Psychology, a Masters of Human Rights and is currently completing an MBA.
Should you wish to contact any member of our Board or the CEO:
C/- ASeTTS, 286 Beaufort Street, Perth, Western Australia 6000.
Telephone: (08) 9227 2736 / Fax: (08) 9227 2777
ASeTTS employs over 30 staff and enjoys the support of many WA volunteers. Our staff includes a range of roles from Psychiatrist, Psychologists, Counsellors, Psychotherapists, Social Workers, Youth Workers and Community Development Workers who provide direct services to clients. We aim to maintain a vibrant and positive workplace, a respectful, caring and rewarding culture and invest in opportunities for ongoing professional development.
We recognise that various factors contribute to the creation and maintenance of a healthy and happy organisation. We are committed to developing a healthy, trauma-informed workplace for all.