Sustaining an Aboriginal mental health service partnership

Jeffrey D Fuller, Lee Martinez, Kuda Muyambi, ; Kathy Verran, Bronwyn Ryan and Ruth Klee
Med J Aust 2005; 183 (10 Suppl): S69-S72.


  • The Regional Aboriginal Integrated Social and Emotional (RAISE) Wellbeing program commenced in February 2003 as an Aboriginal mental health service partnership between one Aboriginal Health Service and three mainstream services: a community mental health team, a hospital mental health liaison, and an “outback” community counselling service.

  • A case study method was used to describe the drivers (incentives for program development), linkage processes (structures and activities through which the partnership operated), and sustainability of the program.

  • Program drivers were longstanding problems with Aboriginal peoples’ access to mental health care, policy direction favouring shared service responsibility, and a relatively small amount of new funding for mental health that allowed the program to commence.

  • Linkage processes were the important personal relationships between key individuals. Developing the program as a part of routine practice within and across the partner organisations is now needed through formal agreements, common care-management tools, and training.

  • The program’s sustainability will depend on this development occurring, as well as better collection and use of data to communicate the value of the program and support calls for adequate recurrent funds. The development of care-management tools, training and data systems will require a longer period of start-up funding as well as some external expertise.

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  • Jeffrey D Fuller
  • Lee Martinez
  • Kuda Muyambi
  • ; Kathy Verran
  • Bronwyn Ryan
  • Ruth Klee

  • 1 Northern Rivers University Department of Rural Health, University of Sydney, Lismore, NSW.
  • 2 Spencer Gulf Rural Health School, University of South Australia, Whyalla Campus, Whyalla Norrie, SA.
  • 3 Northern and Far Western Regional Health Service, Pt Augusta, SA.


Other members of the Research Advisory Committee were Cephas Stanley (Chief Executive Officer, Pika Wiya Health Service), Daniel MacKenzie (Coordinator, Flinders and Outback Regional Health Service), Kathryn Cronin (Mental Health Liaison, Pt Augusta Hospital), Harold Stewart (Senior Project Officer, Aboriginal Health Division, South Australian Department of Health), Dana Shen (Manager Aboriginal Programs, Country Division, South Australian Department of Health), and Alwyn Chong (Research and Ethics Officer, Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia). James Stanley provided administrative and research assistance. The study was funded by a research grant from the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute of the Australian National University.

Competing interests:

None identified.

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