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.

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:

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 torture and trauma survivors are supported.

ASeTTS’ Purpose

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

ASeTTS’ Values

ASeTTS place importance on:

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:

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).

Full statement:

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:

We acknowledge that children’s safety is a whole of community responsibility and is everyone’s business.

Related information:

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

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. 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.

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

Over the past 20-years in Australia, Dr Paradee 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.

Wildaliz De Jesus ArochoBoard 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.  

Leadership Team

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

Email: executive@asetts.org.au

ASeTTS Staff

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.

Source: QPASTT Healthy Organisation Survey, 2020.
Join our community

Take Action Today

Help survivors overcome trauma and rebuild their lives.