Nurses played a significant role in providing care to Kosovar and East Timorese refugees at the East Hills Reception Centre in Sydney, Australia, during Operation Safe Haven in 1999–2000. To ascertain the needs of nurses in this setting, 13 nurses participated in two focus group interviews, and two in-depth interviews were conducted with nursing managers. Qualitative thematic analysis was conducted on the resulting transcripts. Nurses reported that, overall, they had the necessary clinical skills but needed specific refugee health profiles and training in culturally competent and trauma-sensitive care. The nurses experienced trauma-related, cultural, environmental and role-related stressors. They used a variety of informal psychosocial supports but reported the need for ongoing counselling and debriefing. While clinical skills were considered important, nurses identified other factors as having more impact on their ability to provide comprehensive care for traumatized refugees, particularly their role as client advocates.