Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool for mental health care

Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool for mental health care

18 October, 2022

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 tool is being adopted nationally and provides an evidence-based and objective approach to the initial assessment for patients seeking mental health support.

IAR-DST for mental health care training is available to GPs, general practice staff, clinicians, and other mental health service providers. EMPHN will commence IAR-DST training in early 2023. To express your interest, click the button below.

A once off $300 payment (excl. GST) is available for eligible GPs who complete the two-hour training. We are working towards the IAR-DST training being a RACGP CPD Approved Activity for the triennium 2023-2026.


Why use the IAR-DST?

When a patient presents with a mental health concern, their experience is understood in the context of eight assessment domains, and treatment needs aligned to the level of care or service type that will most likely result in treatment gains.

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

The aim is for all Commonwealth-funded mental health services to progressively begin using the IAR-DST.

State funded services are also adopting the use of the tool, including the Victorian Government-funded Adult and Older Adult Mental Health and Wellbeing Services (Local Services).


Express interest in IAR-DST training

If you would like to express interest in training, or be involved in the IAR-DST project, please complete our EOI 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).

Further information

For further information please contact iar.info@emphn.org.au.

Key resources


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Who can attend training?

Providers whose principal place of practice is within the EMPHN catchment can attend EMPHN hosted training. Please check your PHN location.

EMPHN welcomes anyone who meets this criteria to attend training, noting that the IAR-DST should be undertaken by suitably qualified and experienced clinicians. In well supervised environments it may be appropriate to engage non-clinical staff in components of the intake assessment. Please refer to page 20 of the National Guidance for further details.

Please contact your local PHN if your principal place of practice falls within the boundaries of another PHN.

2. If I register my interest, what happens next?

Once training times and locations have been confirmed, EMPHN will email you a link to register your attendance.

If you have expressed interest in becoming involved in another way, our Training and Support Officers will contact you to discuss.

3. Who is eligible to receive the $300 (excl. GST) payment?

GPs/GP registrars whose principal place of practice is within the EMPHN catchment must attend the full two-hour training to receive the payment.

GPs will not be paid for attending this training if attending on behalf of an organisation as a salaried position funded by the Commonwealth.

Other medical staff and clinicians are not eligible to receive payment for attending training.

4. When will RACGP CPD hours be confirmed?

We are working towards the IAR-DST training being a RACGP CPD Approved Activity for the triennium 2023-2026.

A certificate of attendance will be provided to all attendees.

5. Will I receive a certificate if I attend training?

A certificate of completion will be sent to all participants who complete the 2-hour training. Attendance will be recorded when you join the online or face-to-face training.

6. Will the IAR-DST be integrated into medical software?

The Department of Health and Aged Care (the Department) has advised that the integration of IAR-DST into GP clinical software is planned for June 2023.

7. Will a new Medicare benefits schedule item be introduced for the IAR-DST?

There are no immediate plans to introduce new MBS items for the IAR-DST. However, nothing prevents a GP from administering the IAR-DST using existing MBS items – provided they meet the requirements of the MBS item descriptor and satisfy all other legislative requirements.

8. Will the IAR-DST be integrated with the mental health treatment plan?

The priority is making the IAR-DST accessible and available to GPs in a way that enables them to use it as part of their workflows easily. Future enhancements to the IAR-DST and MHTPs will be considered in the broader context, factoring in stakeholder feedback and findings from the current Better Access evaluation, IAR-DST evaluations, and further insights obtained as more GPs utilise the tool.

9. What is the target group that the IAR-DST is appropriate to be used with?

The IAR-DST has been developed for the general adult population (18-65 years of age). The Department of Health has embarked on a development process for specific population groups, including:

  • Children (5-11)
  • Adolescents (12-17)
  • Older adults (65+)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse people
  • Veterans
  • People with co-occurring conditions (including intellectual disability)

EMPHN will notify training participants of IAR-DST updates such as the release of adaptations.