The MHS is accessible to the individual and meets the needs of its community in a timely manner.

The intent of this standard is to ensure that access to mental health services is reasonable and equitable.

Identified needs (criterion 10.2.1)
Provision of information on access (criterion 10.2.2)
After hours care (criterion 10.2.3) (partially applicable to the sector)
Physical access (criterion 10.2.4)

Identified needs (criterion 10.2.1)

Service providers should pay particular attention to the diversity of their individuals: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) persons, religious and spiritual beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, physical and intellectual disability, age and socio-economic status.

More information on culture and diversity is available in the guidelines of standard 4.

Access should be regularly monitored to ensure that it is timely, equitable and meets the identified needs of the catchment community.

Evidence that this criterion is met could include:
  • analysis of census data against the service's demographic profile
  • community needs analyses
  • feedback from consumers, carers and the community regarding access to the service provider
  • documented formal links with applicable community groups and other service providers
  • use of appropriately trained interpreters, including Auslan interpreters
  • staff orientation and ongoing training that includes training about the access process.

Provision of information on access (criterion 10.2.2)

The process of access should be made known to consumers, carers, applicable stakeholders, other agencies and service providers.

Evidence that this criterion is met could include:
  • a documented procedure for disseminating the information to consumers, carers and other service providers
  • displaying posters and brochures in public areas, making them available through a website and through other means as appropriate to the needs of the catchment community.

After hours care (criterion 10.2.3) (partially applicable to the sector)

Information should be available about how consumers can access emergency after hours care and support.

Evidence that this criterion is met could include:
  • a consumer information pamphlet that includes after hours emergency contact numbers and the location of after hours mental health services in a format that is understandable to consumers and carers
  • the service provider's after hours telephone message saying how to access emergency after hours care and support
  • for services in remote areas, information on availability of tele-psychiatry, for example an after hours telemedicine service provided by mental health nurse. Top of page

Physical access (criterion 10.2.4)

For service providers that operate from premises built before the current building access standards were in place, providing physical access can be a challenge, for example in terms of costs to address barriers and lease constraints. In these circumstances service providers need to think laterally about how to reduce the physical barriers. This could include meeting with consumers and carers who have significant mobility constraints in another location, or referring them to other support services that have the necessary physical access arrangements.

All service providers should have clear signage, and take whatever action possible to reduce access barriers. It is important to realise that not all barriers are structural. An access audit is likely to identify barriers that could be reduced at little or no cost, such as furniture, pot plants, pamphlet carousels and mats that could be moved, and doors and gates with complex latches that could be changed (unless they are required for safety reasons).

Information on physical access is available on the disability rights page on the Australian Human Rights Commission website (humanrights.gov.au).

Evidence that this criterion is met could include:
  • results of physical access audits
  • clear signage, visual inspection of physical entry points
  • disability awareness training for staff
  • pamphlets and brochures that include information about physical access to the service.