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Life Without Barriers, South Australia

At  Life Without Barriers we were honoured to have been able to provide to our senior management team in South Australia...



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Home > Aboriginal Mental Health Intervention Programs


Aboriginal Mental Health Intervention Programs

IPS has been involved in the development, delivery and evaluation of Aboriginal specific mental health intervention programs since 2002 with the aim of addressing the disproportionate rates of mental illness within rural and remote Aboriginal communities. IPS has increased its capacity to deliver these programs in the past three years through the identification of a number of highly skilled consultants who have been trained in IPS' unique programs. It is the intention of IPS to continue to develop this capacity via the identification of more consultants Australia wide and therefore ensure a greater level of delivery into remote Aboriginal communities. Whilst IPS has provided a significant amount of work in the area of suicide prevention, programs have also been delivered across other areas such as trauma management, anger management, conflict resolution, family violence and so forth. IPS has continued to demonstrate the success of their programs in a field which has very few success stories to tell and particularly given that delivery occurs into the most complex, resource poor, culturally diverse and therefore chronically impacted communities in Australia. View our Aboriginal Suicide Intervention Programs page for an overview of our Achievements in Aboriginal Suicide Prevention and Recognition for Contributions to the Field pages.



IPS has been involved in service delivery to remote, regional and urban Aboriginal communities who tend to come to attention as a result of having a number of critical incidents or events which have resulted in the development of associated issues such as depression, suicidal behaviours, trauma responses, violence, substance useage and anxiety. The involvement of IPS has often been the result of service deficiencies either through a lack of resources either in terms of volume of services relative to need or very real struggles that existing services have in being able to deliver services in a culturally competent manner.

IPS’ highly successful model includes the following phases:

  1. Cultural Mapping/Desktop Research Phase. This includes identification of key family groups and elders and a clear cultural mapping of skin, family or clan groups including historical factors impacting upon the community (i.e. removal from traditional lands etc.). This is essential to ensure that IPS achieves optimal engagement with the community for the face to face work, Direct (face to face) Community Engagement/Consultation Phase. IPS, as a standard engages with key Elders representing each distinct language, skin or family group before informing services or any other stakeholder of their potential work in the community. IPS seeks permission from Elders to work in their community and within that provides them with the option to determine that “IPS is not the right people for the work”. This is our standard process of cultural respect in that we seek permission  - the need for these meetings to be face to face is about the need for elders to judge us based upon our spirit (good or bad) and this necessitates a ‘checking out’ phase. Once permission is granted (it never hasn’t been!) the next phases are as follows:
  2. Analysis of Needs Phase. This involves concurrent services to Community and Service Providers. The delineation of tasks is as follows:
    1. Community Needs Analysis/Provision of Services. IPS consults with key family groups as identified by the elder’s group’s members to gain their input in the services they would require for themselves, family and community based upon their views of the key issues impacting upon the community. This also informs the model of service delivery, method and content of the service delivery phases. For example in communities in which there has been critical incidents there may be a need to provide some immediate debriefing; for those who are in a stage of change related to substance usage it may be essential to provide information/brief counselling etc., 
    2. Service Providers Consultation, Scoping and Profiling. This includes an initial mapping of services and programs provided into the community against service type, mix and gaps identified relative to the intervention best practice. The mapping of services is also crucial to ensure that IPS has a referral mechanism from their community phase (above),
    3. Delivery of Services/Determination of Service Model. This involves the delivery of intervention services of some form into the community as well as to service providers.
      1. For service providers it often involves Aboriginal mental health training or cultural competency intervention programs. This ordinarily occurs over a minimum of THREE phases for optimum skills improvements,
      2. For community it is a little more complex depending upon historical factors associated with existing services as well as the level of readiness that community have regarding the participation in group based intervention programs. Generally IPS takes a very gradual approach with community starting with discussions about needs with key family groups; the provision of counselling/therapeutic services; referrals and ultimately expanding this to mental health intervention programs for the broader community members once trust is established in the process as well as IPS. For the majority of communities this is able to occur immediately after Phase 3 described above,
      3. Development of Service Delivery Models including Community Governance Models. This often occurs by getting service providers and community together for the purpose of ascertaining the most effective service delivery model for the community. IPS has assisted with the development of such models as Integrated Service Delivery Models; Community Governance Models and Joint Case Management Models to name a few. The models are based upon the concept of service providers and community being part of the solution and to mobilise resources (both from services and communities) to ensure optimum use of these resources and to ultimately have the most effective service model for Aboriginal clients,
      4. Outcome, impact and process evaluation of the entire project via a number of objective and subjective measures is provided to demonstrate the impact of the programs.


In addition to the significant number of Suicide Intervention Programs provided by IPS into Aboriginal communities nationally, IPS has also provided mental health intervention programs into a number of communities based upon the identification of community need, the delivery of targeted intervention programs and the development of a mental health service delivery plan and often model for the existing services based upon their increased cultural capacity. These communities have included:

  1. The Bowraville Community, NSW
  2. Tabulam (Jubullum) Community, NSW

Contact IPS for further information about their Community Intervention Programs. Go to our Whole of Aboriginal Community Suicide Prevention Program  page for further information on these programs.