National practice standards for the mental health workforce 2013

Standard 5: Access

Page last updated: November 2013

Mental health practitioners facilitate timely access to services and provide a high standard of evidence-based assessment that meets the needs of people and their families or carers.

The mental health practitioner:


  1. Supports a positive and respectful experience of the service, creating an environment that sets the person at ease
  2. Clearly explains processes, service parameters and the constraints of confidentiality to the person and their support networks
  3. Gathers and collates information relevant to service access, taking into account issues related to safety, consent and confidentiality, including but not limited to
    • possible migration and refugee history
    • exposure to torture and trauma
    • the impact of cultural adaptation, integration and marginalisation
    • housing
    • support networks
    • the history of engagement with community supports or services
    • recent stresses, losses or changes (for example, in family relationships and structure, financial circumstances, carer employment or other significant losses)
  4. Identifies the particular needs and responsibilities of people who are carers for others, particularly those caring for children and young people, in relation to: prioritising; their ability to attend the service; and meeting the identified support needs of dependents
  5. Provides information to the person and their support network about services and resources able to be offered including type, setting and timeframes

Entry to service

  1. Determines if the person is aware of any referral and its purpose
  2. Through seeking advice from senior staff when required, accurately assesses new referrals in a timely manner, applying service acceptance criteria, referring where necessary to appropriate services within or external to the mental health service system
  3. Collaborates with people to generate an initial recovery plan that addresses key risk issues
  4. Advocates for the person's and their family's or carer's needs with relevant services, including accommodation, health, education, family and community services, aged care providers and others
  5. Expresses to families and carers, within the bounds of confidentiality, an awareness of the impact of the person’s presentation on the family and community
  6. Where appropriate documents, records and communicates any assessment, brief case formulation and/or initial management plans in a clear summary for team members and the person and family or carers
  7. Conducts brief interventions at the initial contact where appropriate, for example, psycho-education and agreed safety strategies
  8. Where appropriate conducts a developmentally relevant risk assessment, taking into account mental state suicidality, self-harm, violence and risk of harm to others
  9. Recognises the effects of intoxication and withdrawal from alcohol and other drugs and facilitates or conducts appropriate screening or assessment when necessary
  10. Clearly documents the person’s legal status and takes this into account in individual care planning