About Us

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.

United Voices (UV)

In 2001 ASeTTS established a client reference group, which was later renamed ‘United Voices (UV)’. The group was born out of the recognition that ASeTTS needed to listen to the voices of their clients in order to improve and maintain the relevance of its services.

UV was modelled on similar groups within the mental health sector. The group can have a maximum 12 members. UV’s input into the life of ASeTTS – its services, policies, strategies and procedures – is central to fulfilling its desired role as a client reference group.

UV is represented on the ASeTTS board with full voting rights. UV members get involved with the planning and implementation of various ASeTTS activities. ASeTTS invests in the learning, development and mentoring of UV members and provides access to opportunities such as ASeTTS training. UV members are also investing their time and energy into ASeTTS.

If you are interested in joining United Voices please contact; Chairperson United Voices by email here or Community Development Coordinator on 92272726. Please refer to the link for more information.

ASeTTS provides holistic services for refugee survivors of torture and trauma to rebuild their lives.

ASeTTS’ Vision

Is for a more peaceful and just world where human rights are recognised, violations of human rights are challenged, and where there is support for people who have endured torture and trauma, and for their families.

Mission Statement

ASeTTS aspires to provide holistic services that assist refugee survivors of torture and trauma to rebuild their lives.

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;

To carry out training, advocacy, and awareness raising and in doing so:

Our Clients

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

Our People

ASeTTS Board, staff and volunteers are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds.

ASeTTS Board

Mr. Peter Walton – Board Chairperson

Mr. Peter Walton OAM CF is the Chairperson of the ASeTTS Board. He has had an extensive career in Government, at local, state and federal levels. Peter has experience as a volunteer and a Board Chairperson within the not-for-profit sector. As a Board member of ASeTTS, Peter contributes extensive and sound governance, strategic leadership and management skills and experience. He has had oversight of and management responsibility for significant government grants in the not-for-profit sector. Peter is confident that he can make a meaningful and constructive contribution to a refreshed 2020 Board that will provide leadership and contribute to the organisation’s standing in the community.

Mr. Tony McRae – Board Deputy Chairperson

Mr. Tony McRae has had more than 30 years’ experience in public policy and community development. His leadership roles have included being a Member of Parliament; CEO, Company Secretary and Board Member of non-profit companies and community organisations; and a consultant and business adviser to the for-profit sector. He has been a member and/or supporter of ASeTTS for many years and looks forward to contributing to its continuing development as a member-based service organisation.

Ms. Pratthana Hunt – Board Secretary

Ms. Pratthana Hunt has held the position of Secretary since November 2018, during which she has been involved in the establishment of a Governance and Risk Committee to bring greater strategic governance to ASeTTS. She believes that there is still much more work to be done as we continue on a journey of strengthening the governance of ASeTTS. Pratthana’s background within policy and audit, coupled with her history and experience in supporting those from a refugee background as a volunteer, provides relevant skills and commitment to the role.

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 will be of benefit to the ASeTTS Board, as it strives to improve governance, financial management and the delivery of patient care to its clients.

Mr. Tim Blackburn – Board Member

Mr. Tim Blackburn has been a member of ASeTTS since October 2014 and has a wealth of experience in taxation, financial accounting and business management. As the previous ASeTTS Treasurer, Tim has generated good relationships with ASeTTS stakeholders, in particular the National network FASSTT.

Ms. Raissa Kundwa – Board Member

Ms. Raissa Kundwa first joined ASeTTS in 2011, as a client in the Youth Program and has had the pleasure of working at ASeTTS as a Youth Support Worker in 2014. Raissa has been involved with United Voices and is passionate about the work ASeTTS does, and has seen first-hand, the difference it makes in a client’s life. Raissa came to Australia with her family on a humanitarian visa from Rwanda in 2006. She has a strong interest in working with children and young people from migrant backgrounds.

Ms. Gail Green – Board Member

Ms. Gail Green is a Social Worker with over 40 years’ experience. She has specialised in trauma work for 20 years and has published in the Australian Social Work Journal and in several other magazines. Gail has a good understanding of governance issues, seeking grant funding and operating 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 the field.

Ms. Louise Ford – Board Member

Ms. Louise Ford was previously employed by ASeTTS between 2007 and 2011, as a Settlement Grants Program case worker, and later became the ASeTTS Coordinator of Training and Education Program. Louise has Board member experience, a long history of supporting refugees and migrants in a voluntary capacity, a strong network in the service provision sector, a passion for the work ASeTTS undertakes and experience in governance, policies / procedures and compliance.

Merissa holds Bachelor of Science (Developmental Psychology) and Master of Human Rights degrees.

Leadership Team

Ms. Merissa Van Der Linden – CEO

Ms. Merissa Van Der Linden joined ASeTTS on Monday 6 July 2020. Merissa has a strong background in human services and human rights, with hands-on and leadership roles in a range of state and national organisations, including Community Vision Inc WA, the WA Disability Services Commission, National Disability Services WA and most recently at Activ WA, where she was the head of Quality Safety Health and Environment. Merissa holds Bachelor of Science (Developmental Psychology) and Master of Human Rights degrees.

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

Email: executive@asetts.org.au

ASeTTS Staff

ASeTTS employs over 30 staff and enjoys the support of many WA volunteers. ASeTTS staff are all experienced professionals with formal qualifications in psychology, social work, counselling, the social sciences or administration. Ongoing professional development and supervision ensures staff are up to date with current trends and able to provide professional and relevant services to our clients.

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