Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool

What is the IAR-DST?

The Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool is an initial mental health assessment tool for patient referral.


National IAR Guidance and the IAR Decision Support Tool were developed by the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care.


These documents provide:


  • advice relating to initial assessment and intake in mental healthcare
  • a description of evidence-based mental health services by level of intensity
  • criteria to assist with matching an individual to a level of care that is most likely to meet the individual’s treatment needs and recovery goals.
  • timely access to an appropriate level of support
  • support services most suited to their needs and recovery
  • streamlined referral processes


IAR-DST supports a stepped care approach.


A stepped care approach provides the right service at the right time, with lower intensity steps available to support individuals before illness manifests. To find out more about stepped care please click here.

  1. Consistent and transparent referrals


Use of IAR-DST across Australia means a standardised approach to mental health care. This improves awareness and transparency about how referral decisions are made. Referrers can record assessment and referral information consistently which means patients are most likely to receive care suited to their individual needs.


  1. Improved patient outcomes


Effective communication of a patient’s circumstances ensures they receive the most suitable support service. This minimises their time in the primary care system.


  1. Supported decision making


When referrers use IAR-DST alongside their own clinical judgement, they provide individualised treatment options. IAR-DST also provides flexibility to adjust treatment in response to a patient’s changing circumstances.


  1. Streamlined referral process


Integration of IAR-DST within existing primary systems will streamline decision-making processes and reduce overall administrative load.

To use the IAR-DST effectively, clinicians are required to attend a training workshop hosted by Sydney North Health Network (2 hour session).

* General Practitioners are eligible for a reimbursement payment of $300.00 exc. GST for their successful completion of training

*Limit and exclusions apply – We encourage enrollment as soon as possible. GP reimbursement places are limited to the first 500 registrations.

*GPs must NOT be primarily working in an organisation who currently receive Commonwealth funding (e.g. headspace sites and Aboriginal Medical Centres)


Current training sessions and information are available here – WEBINAR Training – Initial Assessment and Referral (IAR) for Mental Healthcare – Sydney North Health Network