State & territory jurisdictional reports: Activity relating to mental health reform prior to the implementation of the Fourth National Mental Health Plan

30. Expand and better utilise innovative approaches to service delivery including telephone and e-mental health services

Page last updated: December 2010

Department of Health and Ageing

  • COAG Telephone Counselling, Self-Help and Support program funds:
    • The Inspire Foundation to enhance and extend the Reach Out! Service
    • The Telephone-Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (T-CBT) trial in rural and remote areas
    • The Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUfAD) online treatment program, encouraging mental health professionals and GPS to provide evidence-based online treatment programs as a valuable adjunct to other treatments
    • Kids Help Line – a free, confidential, anonymous 24-hour telephone counselling service for young people aged 5-25 years. Also offers online counselling service
    • Kids Helpline Expanded Indigenous Services Project which is an extension of the mainstream Kids Helpline and aims to improve indigenous children's access to telephone counselling and online support, and improve responses and intervention techniques for indigenous callers in culturally sensitive ways and
    • Other similar projects for telephone crisis counselling and the development of evidence-based online mental health treatment programs to supplement or substitute face-to-face services, such as the Black Dog Institute's Mobile Tracker program and Australian National University Centre for Mental Health Research – e-hub programs and the Swinburn University eTherapy Unit which has developed an online CBT program to manage anxiety.
  • The National Suicide Call Back Service provides funding to the Victorian Crisis Support Service to expand the Call Back Service to provide national coverage.
  • The Consumer Activity Network (CAN) - Phone Connections. A Peer support phone support for people living with a mental illness that operates 4 evenings a week. Does not rely on callers ringing in to receive support, rather peer support workers call consumers who have been referred. Top of page

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

  • Innovative approaches to service delivery to meet the needs of individuals, families and communities across a wide range of situations and locations is embedded in the principles of Targeted Community Care (mental health) Program:
    • Personal Helpers and Mentors mainstream model was adapted to meet the specific needs of remote communities, including removing age restrictions.
    • Mental Health Respite services are tailored to meet the needs of individual carers and person to whom they provide care and can include telephone services as well as internet education and peer support.
    • Community Base Services and Mental Health Respite use art and craft groups, camps, cultural outings and social and sporting activities to meet the needs of people with mental illness, their carers and families.
    • Mental Health Program Evaluation has assessed the effectiveness of FaHCSIA community based mental health services including innovation in service delivery.
  • FaHCSIA's Targeted Community Care Program funds a service in Central Queensland to deliver:
    • on-line recovery training (Boston model from the centre of psychiatric rehabilitation) to staff working in the mental health sector. This is a certified on-line training course aligned with contemporary approaches that are recovery focused and
    • recovery based workshops, education and mentoring support through the internet, phone services, DVDs and face-to-face mentoring to meet the challenges of rural and remote carers. Top of page

Human services portfolio

  • The Child Support Program administers the Parent Support Service a priority telephone service for its customers who present in emotional distress or who are at risk of self harm or harm to others.
  • The Child Support Program is also able to immediately transfer to Centrelink any customers who identify as being fearful of collecting child support for an assessment and possible exemption via Centrelink Social Workers. The Family Relationships Advice Line (FRAL) is utilised for a high number of Child Support Program customers requiring support and on-referral for parenting or relationship issues.

Department of Veterans' Affairs

  • The VVCS – Veterans and Veterans Family Counselling Service (VVCS) provides a range of ehealth services to veterans, families and current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
    • Changing the Mix is a self paced correspondence alcohol program open to all Australian veterans and peacekeepers and their partners, adult sons and daughters of Vietnam veterans and all current members of the Australian Defence Force. DVA entitlement is not required, and information is confidential.
    • The program is delivered via correspondence, with modules sent to participants. Participants complete the modules, monitor their drinking and assess their progress with the support of a Changing the Mix consultant.
    • Veterans Line is the after-hours crisis counselling service designed to assist veterans and their families in coping with crisis situations outside of VVCS office hours. It is administered through the VVCS and delivered through a single national contracted provider, Crisis Support Service.
    • Video counselling - a 12-month pilot using videoconferencing technology is being conducted to provide counselling to veterans and their families who live in regions where access to a local mental health service is problematic or non-existent. This is aimed at improving access to community mental health services.
    • The use of SMS text messaging was implemented to remind clients (who consented to being contacted in this way) of counselling appointments and group program sessions. Staff in each centre were provided with training in the use of the SMS portal. This service to clients commenced in December 2008 and will be evaluated at the end of the first 12 months through a review of 'did not attend' statistics, client satisfaction surveys and staff consultation. Top of page

Department of Defence

  • An electronic E-Health system is being developed that will meet world best practice standards. The introduction of this system will have a wide reaching impact allowing seamless access to health information for all health workers, both within and external to ADF. Communication within the multi-disciplinary teams will be greatly enhanced. Research will be enabled through the development of easily accessed databases.
  • The All Hours Support Line in a 24 hour telephone counselling support service offered by Defence to all serving members and their families.
  • A scoping study will be conducted to explore alternative models for delivery of rehabilitation both in Defence and civilian environments. The goal will be to develop an innovative approach that meets the unique needs of serving military personnel and their particular conditions.