Evaluation of the Bringing them home and Indigenous mental health programs
10. Likely future demand
This chapter addresses the likely future demand for the four Programs. This includes the:
10.1 Link-Up and BTH services
10.1.1 Statistical data on the BTH and Link-Up ProgramsData on the number of client contacts and client reunions for Link-Up (1998-1999 through to 2005-2006) and client contacts for the BTH Program (2001-2002 through to 2004-2005) were presented in chapter 5. These data demonstrated that for both programs, there have been marked variations in the numbers of client contacts/reunions over time, with no clear pattern of increase or decrease. As noted in chapter 5, these program data also have some major limitations, and they should therefore be treated with some caution.
No other statistical data was identified by the consultants which could inform accurate assessments of the likely future demand for the services delivered under the Link-Up, BTH and SEWB RC Programs.
10.1.2 Qualitative data from the consultationsCurrently both the Link-Up and BTH services have very heavy caseloads and face greater demand for services than they can meet with their level of resourcing (see chapter 8). The consistent view from staff of the programs and external stakeholders is that it is likely that the demand for both Link-Up and BTH services will remain at least at the same level, or possibly increase, in the future (especially if there is proactive promotion of the services/programs).
It was observed that the overall number of first generation Stolen Generations members in Australia is likely to slowly decline over time, given their age (many but not all are now more elderly) and the much lower life expectancy of Aboriginal people compared to non-Aboriginal people. However, as noted in chapter 5, this evaluation has concluded that the Link-Up and BTH services have not placed nearly enough emphasis on targeting the first generation members, and if they did so it is likely that there would be much greater demand for the services from these members.
Turning to demand from the second and subsequent generations (the primary target group in practice for both the Link-Up and BTH services currently), it was consistently felt that this will continue at least at the same levels or greater in the future since:
- The severity and incidence of the problems associated with the trans-generational impacts of Stolen Generations experiences does not appear to be decreasing and is unlikely to do so in the future.
- There will be even more 'generations' affected as time goes on.
- There is a growing awareness of, and demand for, Aboriginal SEWB services, and increasing willingness by Aboriginal people to access services such as these.
Several of the areas identified for future action by this evaluation could potentially have a significant impact on demand for Link-Up and BTH services. On the one hand, demand could be increased by the services proactively seeking out and tailoring services to meet the needs of first generation members, more generally proactively promoting the programs to the Aboriginal community, and providing a broader mix of services to better meet the needs of a wider range of Stolen Generations members (e.g. through outreach work, group work in community settings etc).
As discussed in chapter 7, program promotion has been very weak for both the Link-Up and BTH Programs. Without any of the services having conducted much program promotion, it is hard to accurately assess what might be the level of 'latent demand' for the services. The 1999 evaluation of Link-Up services recommended that the Australian Government fund outreach activities for a period of three years (until 2002) with a focus on identifying demand, and then make a decision as to whether to meet demand in regional and remote areas by establishing a regional service in each State/Territory or providing outreach services from existing Link-Up services (KPMG 1999a, pp85-86). This did not occur in practice.
On the other hand, demand for the BTH services could be decreased if there were other services providing general Aboriginal SEWB counselling services in Aboriginal communities. This would make it easier for BTH services to focus on their intended core business.
10.2 SEWB RCsAs discussed in chapter 9, the performance by SEWB RCs of their roles has been very variable and partial. The consultations indicated strongly that there is a high demand for the Centres to be meeting the professional development needs of the Aboriginal SEWB workforce, particularly Link-Up and BTH workers. The demand for the Centres to be fulfilling their roles – and fulfilling them effectively – is likely to continue at least at the same level as currently.
As with the Link-Up and BTH Programs, some of the suggested areas for future action outlined in this evaluation could have a marked impact on demand for these services. Demand for services could increase in the future if:
- All SEWB RCs effectively fulfil all of their roles, including those which have been given insufficient attention to date (assessments of training needs, meeting the professional development needs of the Aboriginal SEWB workforce, and inter-agency coordination).
- SEWB RCs give more attention to meeting the needs of Aboriginal SEWB workers in regional and remote areas, including conducting training on an outreach basis and exploring alternative cost-effective training models such as teleconferencing and web based strategies.
- Separate Aboriginal SEWB services are available in the Aboriginal community to complement the BTH services.