Menu Icon Search

IAR - Initial assessment and referral decision support tool

It can be challenging for GPs and other clinicians to determine the most appropriate level of care for patients with mental health concerns.

The Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool (IAR-DST) provides a standardised, evidence-based and objective approach to assist GPs and mental health clinicians with mental health care recommendations.

The Australian Government is expanding and implementing the Initial Assessment and Referral (IAR) tool in primary care as part of the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. This means they are making this tool available to general practices and we are coordinating training sessions for the GPs in our region.

GPs will be offered a one-off payment of $300 to attend the training and eligible for 1.5 hours Educational Activities and 0.5 hour Reviewing Performance (total of 2 CPD hours).

How does the IAR-DST work?

The IAR-DST assessment is undertaken using eight initial assessment domains that are used to match clients to one of five appropriate levels of care.

The 8 assessment domains help to distil essential assessment information and identify key signals i.e. red flags that are critical for decision making.

The IAR-DST uses these criteria to assist with matching an individual to the most appropriate level of care for them:

IAR DST Diagram web

What are the benefits of IAR-DST?

1. Consistent and transparent referrals

The IAR-DST provides a standardised framework for referrers to communicate assessment and referral information consistently, and articulate treatment needs using a language commonly understood across the sector. Widespread use of the IAR-DST improves awareness and transparency of how decisions about the appropriateness of referrals are made.

2. Improved patient outcomes

Effective communication of a consumer’s situation will ensure that they are matched to the most appropriate service for their needs, and minimise risks and liabilities associated with under-estimating their treatment needs. This can also reduce frustration and save time in managing rejected referrals, meaning more patients receive the right care at the right time.

3. Supported decision making

Referrers can use the tool to guide the discussion about treatment options with consumers, with the flexibility to adjust treatment needs in response to changes in their circumstances. Studies have shown that when consumers are involved in the decision process, they are empowered and more likely to adhere to care.

4. Streamlined referral process

Integration of the IAR-DST within existing primary systems and mapping of available services to each level of care will streamline decision-making processes and reduce overall administrative load.

Paid CPD training for GPs

A one-off incentive payment* of $300 per GP is available to GPs who undertake training in IAR-DST. This can be an individual payment direct to the GP or a lump sum to the practice for each participating GP. You must attend training from start to finish to be eligible for CPD points and the payment.

GPs can choose to participate in a national workshop via Zoom OR a face to face training workshop conducted by the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN primary care team. Workshops run for two hours.

CPD Hours

Attendees may record 1.5 hours Educational Activities and 0.5 hour Reviewing Performance (total of 2 hours).

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe the Initial Assessment and Referral development process
  • Describe 8 assessment domains of the Initial Assessment and Referral
  • Differentiate between levels of care and determine regional services appropriate to patients' needs
  • Apply the decision support tool to generate a recommended level of care appropriate to the patient's needs
  • Apply the principles related to clinical decision-making and consumer choice into practice.

* Payment is not available to other medical staff, clinicians or GPs working in Adult Mental Health Centres or Aboriginal Medical Services already funded by the Government.

Practice Resources

Please contact the Initial Assessment and Referral Training Support and Engagement Team if you have any questions at or phone 4615 0900.

Need PHN support?

Our Primary Care Liaison team is available to provide one-on-one support.