Nooria Mehraby


Crisis in Afghanistan: STARTTS’ Response to Support Traumatised Afghans Refugees


Four decades of war and unrest in Afghanistan have had, and continue to have, a profound impact on all aspects of life in Afghanistan. Millions, have fled the country, are internally displaced or have lost their lives. The current crisis, due to the fall of the country to the Taliban in late 2021, saw a major rescue operation, where over 4200 Afghans who were at high risk, were evacuated to Australia. The crisis has also had a significant impact on the Afghan diaspora in Australia, many of whom are still dealing with deep physical and psychological scars of their traumatic experiences. Many have experienced re-traumatisation with severe posttraumatic symptoms, grief and loss reactions, acute anguish, anger, resentment, survivor guilt, anxiety and depression. Concern about family members in Afghanistan who are at risk but cannot leave Afghanistan, as well as the pressure to provide financial support to them, are additional sources of stress. This has placed an enormous demand on service providers.

This presentation will explore how, Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS), have responded to this major crisis.

The objectives of this presentation are:

  • To provide some background information about wars in Afghanistan, Afghan culture, ethnic groups and faith.
  • To highlight the Impacts of the crisis in Afghanistan: On individuals, family and Afghan community.
  • To explore on STARTTS’ response to the Afghanistan crisis via a holistic approach, integration of community development and clinical work.

Senior Clinician/Clinical Trainer at The NSW Service for the treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS )


Nooria Mehraby MD (she/her) is a senior clinician and clinical trainer at STARTTS. Herself a former refugee, Nooria has more than 35 years’ experience working with refugees both overseas and here in Australia. This includes 27 years at STARTTS. Nooria first trained as a medical doctor in her native Afghanistan and later obtained a Master of Counselling with Distinction in Australia. Nooria is an experienced national and international conference speaker and is the author of multiple publications (including textbook contributions) on refugee trauma, cross-cultural approaches and working with children. Nooria has lectured in various universities in NSW and has facilitated clinical workshops across Australia.
Nooria was formerly the editor of Refugee Trauma and Cross-Cultural Approaches sections of the Owl talks Online Journal, and the Interface Column in Psychotherapy in Australia. Her particular interest is in developing cross-cultural therapeutic interventions with refugees, especially with Muslim clients. Nooria is trained and experienced in variety of therapeutic modalities such as short-termpsychodynamic psychotherapy, EMDR, NET, ACT and CBT. Nooria has developed expertise in trauma focus therapy in working with torture and refugee trauma survivors, including adults, adolescences and children, and provides ongoing clinical consultation to other clinicians.
In her current position as STARTTS’ Senior Clinician/ Trainer, she brings clinical expertise to STARTTS’ wide range of training programs and regularly delivers workshops to service providers. She has trained hundreds of clinicians working in trauma assessment and interventions. In 2015 she was the recipient of Australian Muslim Professional of the Year Award.