Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool for mental health care

Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool for mental health care

01 February, 2023

The Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool (IAR-DST) for mental health care assists general practitioners and clinicians in recommending a level of care for a person seeking mental health support.

The IAR-DST brings together existing assessment results rather than replace or require additional clinical assessment scales and processes. The IAR-DST provides a framework for GPs and clinicians to consider consumers presentation and may also act as a prompt about the information to gather.

The IAR- DST aims to provide a common approach and language for communicating the intensity of the treatment response (level of care) across service providers.

IAR-DST for mental health care training is available to GPs, general practice staff, clinicians, and other mental health service providers.

A once off $300 payment (excl. GST) is available for eligible GPs who complete the two-hour training.

The IAR-DST training is now an RACGP CPD Approved Activity for the triennium 2023-2026.

Our training dates are as follows:

MARCH 2024
Tuesday 5 Online Zoom 10:30am-12:30pm Register now
Wednesday 20Online Zoom12:00pm-2:00pmRegister now
Thursday 28Online Zoom10:00am-12:00pmRegister now
APRIL 2024
Wednesday 3Online Zoom 11:30am-1:30pm Register now
Thursday 18Online Zoom10:00am-12:00pm
Register now


We are also available to conduct training at your clinic (minimum numbers may apply). If you are interested, contact us at IAR.info@emphn.org.au

Why use the IAR-DST?

The IAR- DST aims to provide a common approach and language for communicating the intensity of the treatment response (level of care) across service providers.

PHNs nationally are supporting the adoption of the IAR-DST. EMPHN funded mental health services, starting with Head to Health and Mental Health Stepped Care, will progressively begin using the tool, where appropriate. As stated in the bilateral agreement between the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments, State funded services, such as the Adult Locals, are to adopt the IAR tool and adaptions when available.

Sector wide utilisation, including by General Practitioners and other clinicians, will help to reduce silos and support service providers to communicate their consumer needs in a common language.

The tool aims to reduce the risks of under or over-servicing and provides a standardised, consistent common language to guide clinical judgement and consumer choice.

In the long term, the IAR-DST might address some of the pressures impacting service availability. For example, improved utilisation and optimisation of self-management and low-intensity interventions may alleviate pressure on moderate-intensity interventions. Careful assignment of the resources means those who require specific supports are more likely to have be able to access them.

At a minimum, adopting a consistent approach across services assists identification of service gaps and advocacy of future funding needs.

About the IAR-DST training

If you would like to register for an upcoming session as listed above, please complete our registration form.

The training consists of a two-hour workshop delivered either face-to-face or online.

The training will focus on:

  • Introduction to the Intake and Referral and Decision Support Tool (IAR-DST) for mental health care.
  • Orientation to the domains, levels of care, and decision support tool.
  • Clinical judgement and supported decision-making.
  • Application of the tool in assessment and intake settings (practical activity using a scenario).