The Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool (IAR-DST)

Building a common language toward a nationally consistent, evidence-based approach to mental health referrals.

WHAT is the IAR-DST?

The Initial Assessment & Referral Decision Support Tool is an initiative from the Department of Health & Aged Care.

WHY use the IAR-DST?

National widespread use of the IAR-DST aims to build a common language across the mental health sector for improved outcomes.

HOW does the IAR-DST work?

The IAR-DST is a useful tool that will complement, not replace, clinical judgement and assessment.

IAR-DST Training

A comprehensive training package is available for all clinicians working in the mental health sector in our region.

WHAT is the IAR-DST?

The Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool (IAR-DST) is a national initiative from the Department of Health and Aged Care that is being implemented across Australia in primary care settings.  

The IAR-DST is a decision-making framework guided by clinicians’ own assessment and clinical judgement. The tool supports clinicians to match a person’s presenting mental health needs with the right and least intensive and least intrusive level of service intensity as early as possible in their journey.  

WHY use the IAR-DST?

National widespread use of the IAR-DST aims to build a common language across the mental health sector about treatment needs based on the person-centred and evidence-based stepped care approach. The tool has been used by the Head to Health intake team and other clinicians in the mental health sector since 2019.  

The Australian Department of Health is now expanding its availability into primary care settings across the country. Implementing the IAR-DST will support clinicians to ensure that consumers receive the right care, the first time, and it will create a shared language in the mental health referral space.

HOW does the IAR-DST work?

The IAR-DST is a useful tool to complement, not replace, clinical judgement and assessment. When the mental health assessment is being conducted, the clinician then uses the IAR-DST to rate all 8 domains. Each domain rating helps to distil essential assessment information and amplify key signals (like red flags) that are critical for decision-making. 

The IAR-DST tool then recommends a level of care based on the least intrusive intervention that will likely lead to the most significant gain – minimising risks that arise through under-servicing and overservicing.

You can use the recommended level of care to support your conversation with the person on what the appropriate next steps for them might be. The tool helps clinicians communicate initial assessment and referral information consistently, and to articulate treatment needs using language commonly understood across the sector.  

For more information, please see the IAR-DST snapshot, summarised in the image below:

IAR-DST Training Healthy North Coast

IAR-DST Training

A comprehensive training package is available for all clinicians working in the mental health sector in the Healthy North Coast region. To use the IAR-DST, you first need to complete a 2-hour training workshop.

Training is offered at multiple dates and times, via Microsoft teams 

Training is available to all GPs, GP registrars, practice nurses, mental health nurses, allied health professionals, commissioned service providers and anyone else working in the mental health sector

GPs are eligible to receive a once off incentive payment of $300 and 2 hours of CPD points through RACGP and ACRRM. All other health professionals will not receive reimbursement. 

The training will cover the following topics:

  • An introduction to IAR  
  • Orientation to the 8 domains  
  • Orientation to the 5 levels of care and the decision support tool 
  • Information on clinical judgement & supported decision making
  • A practical activity using the IAR DST with a case study (1 hour) 

Register below for an upcoming session.  

Please contact Kelsey Tarrant at Healthy North Coast if you would like to organise training session(s) specifically for your service.  

[email protected] 02 5646 2305

Using the IAR-DST

Once you complete the training, you can use the tool. 

Key Resources

More information and support

Please contact Kelsey Tarrant at Healthy North Coast for more information and support.  

[email protected] 02 5646 2305

FAQ

Training is available to all GPs, GP registrars, practice nurses, mental health nurses, allied health professionals, commissioned service providers and anyone else working in the mental health workforce.  

Training is conducted online via Teams. Training takes 2 hours and includes an information session on the IAR and Stepped Model of care and a practical component to explore application of the DST. If you would like to express interest in face-to-face training, please get in touch.   

  • Participants are familiar with the principles underpinning the national approach to stepped care. 
  • Participants have an awareness of and confidence in the IAR development process.  
  • Participants can apply the IAR Guidance in practice settings, using the domains and the decision support tool to generate a recommended level of care.  
  • Participants understand the Levels of Care and can determine regional services matched against the levels of care.  
  • Participants understand the principles of clinical decision-making and consumer choice and can practice following these principles and using supported decision-making strategies.