Creating a healthier, better connected Gippsland.

Initial Assessment and Referral

The Initial Assessment and Referral (IAR) is a national approach to improving patient experience and assisting general practitioners and mental health clinicians to connect patients to the right mental health care at the right time.

The Initial Assessment and Referral (IAR) guidance is an initiative of the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care. The IAR provides a standardised, evidence based and objective approach to assist general practitioners (GPs) and mental health clinicians to recommend a level of care for their patients.

The Initial Assessment and Referral complements your clinical judgement to estimate the intensity of the mental health response a person might need based on eight diagnostic domains and five levels of care.

Mental Health Care in General Practice

As the most consulted health professionals in Australia, GPs are often the first point of contact for people seeking mental health support. A GP/General Practice may be the only point of care for patients requiring support with their mental health.

People seeking mental health support may present with a range of factors that can make it challenging for health professionals to determine the most appropriate level of care. The GP patient relationship places GPs in a unique position where they may notice symptoms or changes in symptoms and can effectively monitor chronic mental illness. Discussions around mental health can also arise during patient consultation for other health matters and GPs can implement early interventions for those at risk.

The IAR and decision support tool has been developed to assist GPs (and other referrers) in finding the most suitable level of care for their patients.

Why use the IAR?

Widespread use of the IAR guidance and the decision support tool will create a common language across general practice and the mental health sector to communicate about a person’s treatment needs.

The IAR guidance aims to improve awareness and transparency of how decisions about the appropriateness of referrals are made. This can reduce frustration and save time managing rejected referrals and improve the experience of the person seeking support.

IAR Training

Gippsland PHN has commenced IAR training and you are invited to participate.

Training provides you with:

  1. An introduction to the IAR and the development of the National Guidance
  2. Orientation to the eight domains, five levels of care and decision support tool
  3. Clinical judgement and supported decision making
  4. Practical, scenario based application of the IAR decision support tool

Workshop 1 is a 30 minute online training workshop accessed via Open Learning:

This workshop introduces the following:

  • Assessment domains
  • Levels of care
  • Required prior to registering for workshop 2

Workshop 2 is a 90 minute interactive workshop (zoom or face to face):

This interactive workshop covers:

  • Practical and experiential learning and reflection
  • Guided exploration of the IAR decision support tool
  • Clinical judgment and supported decision making
  • Discussion and Q&A
Training Method Workshop 1 Registration

Gippsland PHN IAR Training

IAR Open Learning Workshop 1

  • Pre recorded
  • Self paced

IAR Workshop 2

  • Online
  • Face to Face

Click here to see upcoming training dates and register

Register here

National IAR Training

Further information to be advised

If you do not find a date that suits you or any other questions you have about the IAR training, please contact

GPs and GP Registrars who complete IAR training will:

Receive $300 (plus GST) remuneration* and can claim 30 minutes Reviewing Performance and 1.5 hrs Educational Activities through RACGP.

*Payment is available to GPs and GP registrars. This one-off payment is not available to other medical staff, clinicians or GPs working with Adult Mental Health Centres or Aboriginal Medical Services already funded by the Government.

IAR Resources

IAR National Guidance

IAR Snapshot

Watch these helpful videos about IAR

IAR Open Learning registration for workshop 1:

The Open Learning Platform provides access to online education ranging from vocational education to professional learning on a vast range of topics. Registration is free.

Tip: If you find the access code is not working for you, please check there is not an extra space after the last digit of the code and remove it. A space can sometimes be automatically applied in a copy/paste action and it will prevent the code from working for you.

Gippsland PHN will be notified when you have registered and completed training.

Frequently Asked Questions

The IAR provides primary healthcare providers with a nationally consistent evidence based and objective approach for patients seeking mental health support. It is a useful tool for GPs to support or confirm clinical judgement while ensuring the person seeking mental health support is matched to the care that most suits their needs at the time.

Implementing the IAR into primary healthcare settings will:

  • Contribute to sector wide consistency of commonly used language
  • Improve understanding of eligibility criteria and enable efficient and appropriate referrals
  • Reduce duplication of assessments from people seeking mental health support
  • Support the stepped care model and collaborative care planning with patients

The Australian Department of Health and Aged Care is developing user journeys to help define where the IAR decision support tool is best placed within a GP workflow. A co-design process will commence in mid 2023 with the aim of integrating it into practice software.

Yes. GPs and GP Registrars are eligible for the remuneration of $300.00 (plus GST) for completing both training workshops. Gippsland PHN will collect the required information from you to process your remuneration upon completion of training.

2 hours for online training via Open Learning and Gippsland PHN over two sessions.

2.5 hours for online National Training.

Training sessions are delivered in two workshops:

Workshop 1:  Open Learning – self paced pre-recorded learning

Workshop 2: zoom (online), Gippsland PHN group session including practical activity. Register here.

Alternatively, you may complete both workshops at the same time by attending a national training. Dates and links to registration can be found here.

  • Workshop 1 must be completed before attending workshop 2
  • Training will proceed where Gippsland PHN has a minimum of six participants for any event

Please use contact email if you wish to express interest in face to face training.

doctors in secondary schools program