Evaluation of the Bringing them home and Indigenous mental health programs
5.2 The Link-Up, BTH and SEWB RC Programs have provided services to many people who are unlikely to have received services otherwise
A second major achievement of the Link-Up, BTH and SEWB RC Programs is that they have provided services to Aboriginal people who, in most cases, are unlikely to have received services otherwise – or services that met their needs as effectively. This is because these programs offer services that are generally not provided by other mainstream or Aboriginal services. In addition mainstream services may be ineffective or culturally inappropriate.
5.2.1 Link-UpIn the case of Link-Up, very few other services have an official role to assist Aboriginal people separated from their families with family tracing and accessing records, or organising reunions. (An exception is the Koorie Family History Service administered by the Koorie Heritage Trust with the assistance of the Public Records Office in Victoria. This service assists Aboriginal people in tracing their family members from whom they have been separated, and provides direct links to State, Commonwealth and non-government archives.)
5.2.2 BTH ProgramIn the case of the BTH Program, while some mainstream counselling programs are available, the literature (as discussed in chapter 4 and appendix B) and the consultations for this evaluation indicate that in many instances these services do not work in culturally appropriate ways, and do not have the skills to work effectively with Aboriginal people generally or members of the Stolen Generations in particular.
Furthermore, the BTH Program provides services at a relatively ‘early intervention’ point on the mental health continuum, in that clients are not required to be diagnosed as suffering from a clinical mental disorder in order to access the Program. The consultations indicate that only a relatively small proportion of BTH clients (around 10%, on the basis of estimates provided by several BTH services) would satisfy this clinical criterion of a mental illness. The bulk of BTH Program clients require more general SEWB support and counselling, rather than acute psychiatric intervention.
Again this distinguishes the Program from many mainstream mental health services, which due to limited resources are often focused at the more acute end of the mental health spectrum, predominantly funded by State and Territory Governments.
While an important benefit of the BTH Program is the provision of Aboriginal SEWB services not generally provided by other services, this is also a significant reason why BTH services have in many instances ended up providing general SEWB services to the whole Aboriginal community, rather than focusing solely on the needs of the Stolen Generations in particular. This is discussed further in chapter 6.