Reforms to the Australian health system aim to ensure that services are accessible, clinically and culturally appropriate, timely and affordable. During the reform consultation process there were urgent calls from stakeholders to specifically consider the health needs of the thousands of refugees who settle here each year, but little is known about what is needed from the refugee perspective. Access to health services is a basic requirement of achieving the quality use of medicines, as outlined in Australia's National Medicines Policy. This study aimed to identify the barriers to accessing primary health care services and explore medicine-related issues as experienced by refugee women in South Australia. Thirty-six women participated in focus groups with accredited and community interpreters and participants were from Sudan, Burundi, Congo, Burma, Afghanistan and Bhutan who spoke English (as a second language), Chin, Matu, Dari and Nepali. The main barrier to accessing primary health care and understanding GPs and pharmacists was not being able to speak or comprehend English. Interpreter services were used inconsistently or not at all. To implement the health reforms and achieve the quality use of medicines, refugees, support organisations, GPs, pharmacists and their staff require education, training and support.