Implementation guidelines for non-government community services

Standard 4. Diversity responsiveness

Page last updated: 2010

The MHS delivers services that take into account the cultural and social diversity of its consumers and meets their needs and those of their carers and community throughout all phases of care.

The intent of this standard is to ensure that mental health services (service provider) provide services that are appropriate and safe for the diverse population in their defined community.

Making services as accessible as possible is good for everyone, not just people from diverse groups with special access needs.

Board and staff understanding of the barriers to the delivery of services to a diverse community are important factors in creating accessible services. These barriers can be attitudinal, physical, and procedural.

Organisations that understand this will be able to recognise and respond to the barriers and to understand the multiple levels of diversity within their community. These organisations will develop cultural competence. They will also develop the processes and practices that encourage inclusiveness and establish the progression of learning about diversity and differences and how they affect the way services are accessed, delivered, received and promoted.

Further information on cultural safety is available in the guidelines for standard 2 safety.

Identification (criterion 4.1)
Response to needs (criterion 4.2)
Planning (criterion 4.3)
Other service providers (criterion 4.4)
Staff (criteria 4.5, 4.6)

Identification (criterion 4.1)

The organisation should identify the groups that could be assisted by its services, then take steps to understand and respond to any access barriers and communicate this to staff.

Evidence that this criterion is met could include:
  • analysing census data against the service's demographic profile
  • reporting on meetings with groups in the catchment community to identify their service and support needs
  • documenting the collaboration between individuals and organisations with specialist expertise, such as in transcultural mental health and gay and lesbian advocates, to gain knowledge about the diversity in the catchment community and to better understand service and support needs.

Response to needs (criterion 4.2)

Responses should address attitudinal, physical, and procedural barriers.

Evidence that this criterion is met could include:
  • respect for and responsiveness to diversity in service delivery principles and values statements
  • documenting that staff have been trained in cross cultural awareness
  • documenting that staff have been trained in disability awareness
  • documenting the use of interpreters with consumers and carers who are not proficient in English or who are deaf
  • board membership and staffing reflecting community diversity
  • specialist positions in the organisation, for example culturally and linguistically diverse and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liaison staff
  • information in the main community catchment languages dealing with issues such as rights and responsibilities or the programs offered by the service provider
  • intake procedures taking into consideration cultural and linguistic needs
  • the use of evidence based culturally appropriate clinical instruments (if relevant to the types of services provided)
  • building alterations and modifications to reduce physical access barriers
  • complaint resolution procedures that take into consideration diversity factors
  • policies and procedures that recognise diversity and are non discriminatory
  • the consumer base being broadly representative of the range of diversity in the catchment community. Top of page

Planning (criterion 4.3)

Service providers should use methods appropriate to their service to engage the main cultural and social diversity groups within its community in all service planning, delivery, evaluation and quality assurance activities.

Evidence that this criterion is met could include:
  • documenting consultation with community catchment groups in the development of strategic plans
  • the outcomes and strategies formulated in strategic plans reflect the diversity of the catchment community and their service needs.

Other service providers (criterion 4.4)

Service providers should collaborate with or work through specialist providers, rather than in addition to, when trying to disseminate information directly to a group. Staff should know how to access specialist services such as interpreters (including Auslan interpreters), and ethnic and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and health workers.

Evidence that this criterion is met could include:
  • MOUs or other collaborative arrangements with specialist service providers
  • documenting when interpreters and bilingual counsellors are used
  • documenting in consumers' individual records when liaison staff and other related service providers are used
  • involving specialist service providers in staff training. Top of page

Staff (criteria 4.5, 4.6)

Service providers should have access to current information on social and historical factors applicable to current circumstances, such as issues surrounding victims of trauma, refugees and how identified groups react to choices.

Evidence that this criterion is met could include:
  • documenting the training provided to staff on what information is available about the diversity in the catchment community and how to use this information to deliver appropriate services
  • staff and volunteer orientation programs that include information on the diversity in the catchment community
  • documenting that staff have been trained in cross cultural awareness.
Policies and procedures to demonstrate compliance with standard 4 will include but not necessarily be limited to those that address:
  • service access - physical, social and cultural and information
  • how organisations identify and respond to the social, cultural, religious and spiritual customs and values of the diverse groups in their catchment community
  • commitment to staff training and development to ensure appropriate diversity responsiveness
  • how staff collect, disseminate and use information on applicable social and historical factors of identified diversity groups
  • the processes used to ensure that identified diversity groups are represented in board membership, in staffing and on organisational committees
  • how and when liaison staff - such as ethnic health workers, interpreters and other related service providers with diversity and expertise programs - are engaged
  • how to work with interpreters, including Auslan interpreters.
It is important to remember that policies and procedures alone are not sufficient to demonstrate that a service provider is meeting a standard's requirements. It is also necessary to demonstrate how the policies and procedures have been implemented and guide organisational practices and behaviours.