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FASSTT launches Witness to War (1800 845 198), a free national multilingual telephone hotline for people affected by overseas conflicts

Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT) 3 mins read
Witness to War

As part of its response to the impact of humanitarian crises and conflicts occurring across the globe, including in Israel/Gaza, Afghanistan and Ukraine, the Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT) has launched Witness to War, a national multilingual telephone hotline to support affected Australian communities.

FASSTT’s combined experience, supported by research, shows that global conflicts and crises impact communities in Australia in different ways. Individuals and families directly exposed to or affected by overseas conflicts can experience stress and anxiety, become extremely fearful and present with a range of other health and social needs.

Drawing on the trauma-recovery expertise of the national FASSTT network and staffed by bicultural support workers and mental health practitioners speaking Arabic, Hebrew, Dari, Ukrainian and English, Witness to War provides independent, confidential and trauma-informed support and information and assistance for individuals and families to connect to a range of local services. Witness to War staff can support other language speakers using interpreters.

Based on a pilot program established in NSW to support communities through the impact of the Afghan Crisis and war in Ukraine, the national roll-out of Witness to War has been funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care.

“The implementation of this program at this point is crucial,” said Jorge Aroche, CEO of STARTTS (the FASSTT member agency in NSW). “Our experience delivering Witness to War in NSW has shown that providing the space to allow people to talk about the impact of situations overseas, and connecting them with appropriate sources of help, can make a huge difference in terms of how well people are able to cope as individuals, families and communities. We have also learnt that the sooner we can do this, the better it works.”

Jamila Padhee, National FASSTT Coordinator said “We have been able to coordinate a swift national response to support Australians affected by global humanitarian crises, based on a model that has already proved successful in NSW. The hotline forms part of a joint FASSTT strategy to support individuals and communities affected by the current crises, and that will be implemented in various ways to fit local requirements across Australia.”

Operating from Monday-Friday between 10am-4pm AEDT (core times nationally), Witness to War is open to all people affected by overseas conflict and can be accessed by calling 1800 845 198. Local operating times are as follows for each state and territory:

  • Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory: 10am to 7pm
  • South Australia: 9:30am to 6:30pm
  • Queensland: 9am to 6pm
  • Northern Territory: 8:30am to 5:30pm
  • Western Australia: 7am to 4pm

Key Facts:

The Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma has launched Witness to War, a free multilingual telephone hotline for Australians affected by overseas conflict and humanitarian crises including in Israel/Gaza, Ukraine and Afghanistan.

Funded by the Commonwealth Government, Witness to War provides independent, confidential and trauma-informed support and information and assistance for individuals and families to connect to a range of local services.


About us:

The Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT) is a network of Australia’s eight specialist rehabilitation agencies that work with survivors of torture and trauma who have come to Australia from overseas. Most clients of FASSTT agencies have come to Australia as refugees or humanitarian entrants. FASSTT agencies also work with survivors of torture and trauma who have come to Australia as asylum seekers. There is one FASSTT member agency in each state and territory of Australia.


Contact details:

Jamila Padhee, National Coordinator

FASSTT (Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma)

M: 0434 534 614

E:  jamilapadhee@fasstt.org.au

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