Evaluation of the Bringing them home and Indigenous mental health programs
3.3 The BTH program
The BTH Program funds a national network of counsellors to provide a support service for all Aboriginal people who have been affected, either directly or indirectly, by past government policies and practices regarding the removal of children from their families.
3.3.1 Number, location and funding of BTH services and counsellors
3.3.2 Funding conditions
3.3.3 Reporting requirements
3.3.4 National guidelines
3.3.1 Number, location and funding of BTH services and counsellorsA total of 106.5 BTH Counsellors are funded in 2006-07 in 73 services around Australia. This includes 19 positions in NSW, 17 in the NT, 13 in SA, 19 in Queensland, 19 in WA, 13.5 in Victoria, 4 in the ACT, and 2 in Tasmania.
Program data provided by OATSIH indicates that, while the total number of services employing BTH Counsellors has increased since 2001-2002, the total number of counsellors has remained fairly static (with a small spike in 2002-2003) (see table 3.2). 2
This has meant that the ratio of counsellors per service has declined over the past four years, as shown in figure 3.1.
As shown in table 3.3 and figure 3.2, the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) counsellor positions in each State and Territory has remained fairly constant since 2001-2002, with a couple of exceptions. The number of FTEs in Victoria/Tasmania has increased (7.0 in 2001-2002 to 13.2 in 2004-2005), while the number of FTEs in the NT has decreased since 2001-2002 (18.0 FTEs in 2001-2002 to 14.0 FTEs in 2004-2005).
As discussed in chapter 8, in 2004-2005 just under two-thirds of the BTH Counsellors (62%) were Indigenous.
In almost all cases, the BTH services are located in pre-existing ACCHSs, also sometimes known as Aboriginal Medical Services.
As discussed above, in WA the BTH Program is jointly funded by OATSIH and the WA Department of Health under the BSF Program.
Table 3.2: Total number of counsellors and funded services, 2001-2002 – 2004-2005
|Year||Total BTH Counsellors||Total services|
Figure 3.1: Ratio of BTH counsellors to funded services, 2001-2002 to 2004-2005
Text version of figure 3.1Ratio of BTH counsellors to funded services by year:
- 2001-2002 - 1.78
- 2002-2003 - 1.68
- 2003-2004 - 1.69
- 2004-2005 - 1.49
Table 3.3: Distribution of FTE BTH counsellor positions by state/ territory, 2001-2002 – 2004-2005
|Year||ACT/ NSW||NT||QLD||VIC/ TAS||WA||SA|
Figure 3.2: Distribution of FTE counsellor positions by state/ territory, 2001-2002 – 2004-2005
Text version of figure 3.2Figures in this description are approximate as they have been read from the graph.
|ACT & NSW|
|Vic & Tas|
3.3.2 Funding conditionsUnder the Funding Agreement, BTH Program services are funded to employ counsellors to improve the SEWB of Indigenous individuals, families and communities affected by past policies of forced removal of children, through a holistic and culturally appropriate approach to mental health service provision. The agreement states that clients referred by Link-Up services are to be an important target group for this Program.
A number of further specific conditions are also set out, and include that:
- Indigenous Mental Health Workers, including BTH Counsellors engaged through BTH funding:
- have the appropriate qualifications and/or skills, or are trained and supported to work in this field
- receive professional supervision and debriefing from a qualified mental health professional
- undertake continuing education and/or in-service training, including BTH related training, that encourages further skill development in addressing the needs of Aboriginal peoples including the social and emotional needs of those affected by past removal policies.
- BTH Counsellors’ salaries and on-costs, administrative support, professional development and training, professional supervision and mentoring from a qualified health professional are to be met from this funding.
- Funded organisations must develop and maintain close working relationships, where possible in formal MoUs, with relevant services including mainstream mental health services, Link-Up Services and SEWB RCs to facilitate smooth referral pathways and a coordinated approach to the provision of counselling and other mental health care. The organisations must provide copies of MoUs to OATSIH.Top of page
3.3.3 Reporting requirementsBTH services are required to complete a 'Questionnaire on Performance Indicators for BTH Counsellor Positions' on an annual basis (referred to in this report as the BTH Questionnaire). The Indicators covered include:
- the type of agencies the BTH Counsellors have a working relationship with eg in relation to networking and referral (such as Link-Up, Stolen Generations groups etc)
- information on the BTH Counsellors employed (gender, whether they are Aboriginal or not, the hours of paid work per week, their experience and qualifications, and staff training and development undertaken)
- whether there were any vacant positions as at the end of the financial year
- the number of individual client contacts provided by the BTH Counsellors, and whether these clients were Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal
- any unusual factors that may have significantly affected these counselling contacts (eg vacant positions)
- proportion of time spent on various activities (working directly with clients for individual care, working with groups, administration and other)
- whether the BTH Counsellors provided care for clients outside of the usual opening hours of the service, and if so, how staff were supported for this after hours work (eg time in lieu, overtime payments)
- the support available to BTH Counsellors (eg debriefing, case consulting, counsellor networking meetings)
- the type of support OATSIH could offer their service in relation to the BTH Program
- the monitoring and evaluation strategies used for the service
- achievements and difficulties experienced.
3.3.4 National guidelinesThere are no national guidelines for the BTH services.
2 Note that Service Activity Reporting data is available only up to 2004-2005.