Local champion of refugee torture and trauma survivors made an honorary fellow

Jorge Arochy

Jorge Aroche sees first-hand just how difficult life as a refugee can be. For 24 years, he has been part of a not-for-profit organisation in Greater Western Sydney that seeks to make life a little easier for newly-settled survivors of trauma and torture. Now Jorge has been recognised for his achievements and compassion with an honorary fellowship from the University of Western Sydney.

The University of Western Sydney made the presentation to Mr Aroche at a UWS graduation ceremony recently, where he also delivered the occasional address.

Mr Aroche is the Executive Director of the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors, or STARTTS. It provides services to assist people from refugee and similar backgrounds, who have experienced torture or other traumatic events before arriving in Australia.

A trained psychologist, Mr Aroche joined STARTTS in 1989, and became Executive Director in 1997.

STARTTS has had a connection with UWS through its School of Social Sciences and Psychology in the form of clinical placements for students and other joint projects, including research.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Janice Reid, says Jorge Roche is an example of the difference one person can make to the lives of so many.

“Under Jorge’s leadership and guidance, STARTTS has grown significantly from its beginnings of a handful of staff in a small suburban house in Fairfield, to an organisation with over one hundred staff working from nine different offices, as well as a range of outreach locations in metropolitan Sydney and in rural and regional areas.

“It is an organisation fulfilling a vital community service – not only helping torture and trauma survivors and their families recover from their experiences, but working with refugee community groups to foster empowerment and self-determination.

“On behalf of the University, I am delighted to make Jorge Aroche an Honorary Fellow of the University, in recognition of his outstanding service to the community.”

Mr Aroche is also Secretary General of the International Society for Health and Human Rights, an Executive Member of the Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma, and former Vice President of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims.

Mr Aroche has authored numerous articles and chapters about the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, on post-traumatic stress disorders, and has presented widely at national and international forums on clinical and settlement issues for traumatized refugees.

In 2001, Mr Aroche was recognised for this work with a Centenary Medal.


27 September 2013

Photo: Sally Tsoutas 

Contact: Amanda Whibley, Manager, Media and Public Relations