Mental Health Community Living Supports for Refugees (MH-CLSR) is a community based program located in seven Local Health Districts (LHDs) that provides support for refugees and asylum seekers with mental health issues to live and participate in the community in the way that they want to. MH-CLSR is part of a suite of community-based psychosocial programs for adults called the NSW Mental Health Community Living Programs.

The program began in 2019 to provide support to at least 79 refugee and asylum seekers with mental health issues at any given time, within the first 10 years of arriving in Australia.

No formal mental health diagnosis is required and program participants can be of any age.

Four community managed organisations have been contracted to deliver MH-CLSR across seven (7) LHDs:

  1. South Western Sydney LHD (New Horizons)
  2. Hunter New England LHD (New Horizons)
  3. Mid North Coast LHD (New Horizons)
  4. Sydney LHD (New Horizons)
  5. Western Sydney LHD (Anglicare Sydney)
  6. Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD (Grand Pacific Health)
  7. Murrumbidgee LHD (Australian Red Cross)

Evaluation of MH-CLSR

The Ministry recently commissioned Human Capital Alliance (International) Pty Ltd (HCA) to conduct a process evaluation of the first two years of the program (2019-2021). The evaluation was completed in June 2023, with 165 consumers receiving support.  It showed that the program was being governed and delivered according to the intended model of care and that it was a valuable addition to the existing suite of community-based psychosocial support programs delivered by NSW Health. A copy of the  evaluation is available at MH-CLSR Program: Process Evaluation (2022).

What type of supports are provided?

People receiving MH-CLSR services work with:

  • a support worker from a community organisation
  • a clinician of their choice or from a local mental health service and
  • their family or other important people in their life to develop their own unique support plan.
MH-CLSR services will consider the whole family of the person and if needed will provide supports to other family members as well.
Everyone’s supports are different and depend on the person’s needs and wants. For example, the program can support someone with:
  • daily living skills like shopping, looking after finances, cooking or catching public transport
  • someone to talk to about mental health and providing support and assistance as needed
  • remembering mental and physical health appointments, medications and other treatments
  • meeting people in the local community and participating in social, leisure or sporting activities
  • learning new skills
  • accessing education, housing or help to get a job
  • help with parenting and children’s education and schooling
  • accessing other supports like drug or alcohol services.

How much support can I get?

The amount of MH-CLSR support you receive is flexible and can change over time to meet your needs.

When things are going well, you may only need a few hours of support a week, but there may be times when you are finding things are difficult or distressing and it would be helpful to get more support.

Can I get housing as part of the program?

A person is not automatically eligible for social or community housing just because they are a MH-CLSR consumer. 

If you need housing the normal application process and eligibility criteria for social housing apply, and the MH-CLSR service will assist you to apply if needed.

Am I eligible for MH-CLSR?

You may be eligible for MH-CLSR support if you are

  • a refugee or asylum seeker of any age
  • have been living in Australia for 10 years or less
  • have mental health issues which causes you difficulties in your day-to-day life (you don’t need to have a diagnosed mental illness)
  • live or are staying in a local area where MH-CLSR services are being delivered so you can meet regularly with your support provider – see the list of service locations below.

Is there a priority group for the program?

The MH-CLSR program will give priority to people who meet the eligibility criteria and have the highest level of need -- such as someone who needs a high-level of support and whose mental health may become worse without MH-CLSR supports.

Where can I get more information about the program?

Your local MH-CLSR provider can provide you with more information about MH-CLSR, including how to access or refer someone into the program. You can contact your local CLS provider using the contact information below:

South Western Sydney Local Health District
Call New Horizons: 1300 726 372
Or STARTTS: 02 9646 6666 (ask for CLS-R)

Sydney Local Health District
Call New Horizons: 1300 726 372
Or STARTTS: 02 9646 6666 (ask for CLS-R)

Mid North Coast Local Health District
Call New Horizons: 1300 726 372
Or STARTTS: 02 9646 6666 (ask for CLS-R)

Hunter New England Local Health District
Call STARTTS: 02 9646 6666 (ask for CLS-R)

Murrumbidgee Local Health District
Call Australian Red Cross: 0478252652 (state language if interpreter needed)

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District
Call Grand Pacific Health: (02) 42869200
Website: Community Living Supports for Refugees

Western Sydney Local Health District
Call Anglicare Sydney: 1300 111 278
Email: ​​

Translating and interpreting services

If English is not your first language, you can use the telephone Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National).

This service is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call TIS on 131 450.

You can also prebook an interpreter online using the TIS National Pre booked phone interpreter form.​​

Current as at: Wednesday 11 January 2023
Contact page owner: Mental Health