Implementation guidelines for non-government community services

Working to the guidelines

Page last updated: 2010

The diversity of the whole mental health service system across which the national standards must be applied is reflected in the non-government community mental health sector - arguably, because of the nature of the services, even more so. For this reason, while it is anticipated that almost all of what follows will be relevant to the majority of service providers, there will be exceptions. The material is presented as a general guide only.

The national standards apply to all service providers within the non-government community mental health sector, but not all of the criteria for each standard will be relevant to all organisations. Each organisation will need to review the material presented and make their own judgments about whether specific criteria apply to their service environment. This will depend on their:

  • service types
  • catchment community
  • target groups
  • business arrangements
  • contractual and funding obligations.
Different service arrangements and laws in each state and territory mean that some criteria will apply in some states and territories but not in others. Each organisation will need to carefully consider each standard and its associated criteria and make decisions about which apply to them.

This section looks at each standard and its associated criteria in detail, with particular reference to the relevance of each criterion to the non-government community mental health service sector. For each standard and its associated criteria, suggestions are made about evidence that service providers might use to demonstrate compliance and about policies and procedures which might assist in demonstrating compliance.

Examples are provided of evidence that service providers might use to demonstrate that they are meeting the criteria associated with each standard.

Some of the criteria for which evidence is suggested might not apply to all service types or service settings within the sector.

The evidence suggested is not definitive. It aims to assist service providers to understand the kinds of information they might be able to use. It is not mandatory to collect or use the evidence suggested. Service providers are encouraged to use whatever evidence is appropriate for their service type and complexity, their catchment community, and their consumers. One piece of evidence might assist the service provider to demonstrate how they are meeting several criteria across a number of standards.

For many of the criteria, evidence will include documentation in the form of policies and procedures. While policies and procedures are important, they will generally not be sufficient on their own to demonstrate that a service provider is meeting the criteria associated with a particular standard. Evidence will need to be provided to demonstrate how the policies and procedures are actually reflected in the way the organisation operates in its physical environment, its day to day work practices and staff behaviour.