Initial Assessment and Referral and Decision Support Tool

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 required.

The Initial Assessment and Referral – Decision Support Tool (IAR-DST) is a
national initiative, that complements clinical judgement and provides GPs and mental health clinicians with a standardised, evidence-based approach to providing care recommendations.

How the IAR-DST assists GPs and clinicians

The IAR-DST assists general practitioners and clinicians in recommending a level of care for a person seeking mental health support. Each level of care is based on the least intensive and least intrusive evidence-based intervention that will likely lead to the most significant possible gain.

Guided by practitioner assessment and clinical judgement, the tool provides a consistent way for GPs and clinicians to make decisions when matching a patient’s mental health needs with the right level of service intensity, at the right time.

Widespread use of the IAR-DST aims to improve awareness and consistency of how decisions about the appropriateness of referrals are made, articulate treatment needs using language commonly understood across the sector and reduce the likelihood of rejected referrals to help patients receive the right care, at the right place and at the right time.

Using the IAR-DST

Increased uptake of the IAR-DST will result in more common language being used across the mental health sector nationally, about what level of service intensity a person requires (Level 1: self-management through to Level 5: specialist and acute).

When using the IAR-DST, a person seeking mental health assistance has their experiences understood in the context of holistic assessment domains. The 8 domains help to distil essential assessment information and identify key signals. The 8 domains are (click the image to make it larger):

IAR-DST training

Murray PHN is delivering group training workshops to assist primary health clinicians understand how to use the IAR-DST. These two-hour workshops are being delivered online or in-person and do attract CPD points. The training workshops cover:

  • An introduction to the IAR-DST and the development of the National Guidance
  • The domains, levels of care and using the decision support tool
  • Clinical judgement and supported decision making
  • Practical application of the IAR-DST in assessment settings.

If any of the below training dates are not suitable, register your interest in later sessions, by clicking on the button below:

Accreditation and incentive payment

There is a $300 once-off incentive payment available to GPs and GP registrars who complete the workshop.

The training is accredited for CPD hours as follows:

  • RACGP - Activity No. 484615, allocated 2 CPD hours (1 Educational Activities hour and 1 Reviewing Performance hour) in the RACGP 2023-25 CPD program.
  • ACRRM - ID: 29124, allocated 2 CPD hours (1 Educational Activities hour and 1 Reviewing Performance hour) in the ACRRM 2023 - 25 CPD program.


For more information or support please contact Louise Scheidl, Murray PHN Initial Assessment and Referral Training and Support Officer, e:


Page last updated 5 February 2024