Introducing Foundation House

What is Foundation House?

The Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (VFST), or 'Foundation House' as it is also known, provides a range of services to people from refugee backgrounds who have survived torture or war related trauma.

Foundation House provides direct services to clients in the form of counselling, advocacy, family support, group work, psycho-education, information sessions and complementary therapies. Direct services to clients are coupled with referral, training and education roles aimed at developing and strengthening the resources of various communities and service providers.

Foundation House provides services across Melbourne with offices in Brunswick, Dandenong, Sunshine and an outpost office in Ringwood. Services are also provided in a number of rural and regional centres across Victoria.

Foundation House is non-denominational, politically neutral and non-aligned.

How did Foundation House begin?

Over the years, Australia has provided refuge for thousands of people fleeing from regions torn by years of conflict and political upheaval. Most humanitarian entrants settle successfully in Australia and, like many millions of migrants before them, make a positive contribution to Australia's social, cultural, intellectual and economic tapestry. However, their capacity to do this is strongly influenced by access to the personal and material resources required to overcome the impact that torture and war related trauma has had on their lives.

In 1987 members of Melbourne's refugee communities, joined with a small group of medical and legal professionals and human rights organisations to convene a public meeting to discuss the provision of health services to survivors of torture.

Initially, discussions focused on whether the services should have a community development or more traditional medical approach. As plans developed and a range of professionals become involved, a unique model evolved - a hybrid that transcended discipline differences and would provided a range of approaches within a holistic service.

In 1988 two philanthropic trusts - The Myer Foundation and the Reichstein Foundation - provided seeding grants to explore the feasibility of a service for survivors of torture. This eventually led to government funding and one community development worker, Paris Aristotle, commenced work in a small house in Parkville.

Over the years that have followed Foundation House has grown to become a world leader in the provision of services to survivors of torture and war related trauma. Today, the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture employs more than 120 people and provides services to more than 3800 survivors each year. It also provides training, consultancy and support for service providers in the health, education and welfare sectors.

To read more about the history of Foundation House, download a copy of More Than Just Words - The 20th Anniversary of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture. Click here

Foundation House Indigenous Acknowledgement Statement (adopted in 2008)

"The Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture's primary offices at Brunswick, Dandenong and Sunshine, and our outpost location in Ringwood, are on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people. In keeping with Foundation House’s aspirations to heal individuals and communities we recognise the loss of land, children, language, lore and spiritual and physical wellbeing of the Wurundjeri peoples and other Indigenous Victorians due to the impact of colonisation. We believe that acknowledging the past and its impact on the present is vital in building strong Victorian communities. We recognise the survival and enduring strengths of Victorian Indigenous culture in spite of such dispossession and aim to build respectful and informed relationships with the Victorian Indigenous community based on the acknowledgment of their unique position as the traditional owners of Victoria. As such, Foundation House is committed to the acknowledgment and participation of Indigenous Victorians within Foundation House events and this is reflected in our official protocols."