27 February 2024

GPs piloting a screening tool to detect and reduce harm from gambling at practices in the Fairfield LGA say their involvement in the study, and the associated training, improved their understanding of gambling issues and increased their comfort in initiating conversations about gambling with patients.

The study’s findings were published in a report, Exploring the feasibility of a gambling harm screening model in general practice and community service settings in Fairfield, in the Australian Journal of Primary Health last week (18 February).

The research was undertaken by the Fairfield City Health Alliance Gambling Working Group, a collaboration between the three levels of government – SWSPHN, South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) and Fairfield City Council – the multicultural gambling service, social service providers and academics.

It aimed to explore the enablers and barriers to implementing a co-designed screening tool in Fairfield – an area with high gambling expenditure.

The screening tool, used by GPs and community workers for 13 weeks in 2020, was developed for culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and materials were translated into three languages (Arabic, Assyrian and Vietnamese).

A training and resource kit was also developed for participants.

More than 130 patients completed the online screening and were referred to help services.

The screening data showed 40 per cent of patients had no risk of gambling harm, 17 per cent were considered at-risk due to their gambling behaviour and 20 per cent were at risk due to someone else’s gambling behaviour.

Twenty-three per cent of patients were identified as being at risk of gambling harm from both their own behaviour and someone else’s.

These rates of gambling harm are substantially higher than the 2019 NSW state prevalence survey.

Study participants said the tool was easy to use, the training empowered them to initiate conversations about gambling, and screening was a positive addition to holistic patient care.

One worker said they found the tool a “really good way to … start building on that relationship regarding gambling”.

Another said they used the tool to say “We’re here not to judge you. We’re here to support you’’.

One GP said they were now more comfortable bringing up, and even just having a basic discussion, about gambling after participating in the study.

Another GP suggested integrating questions about gambling harm into practices as part of an overall comprehensive approach, similar to asking about smoking or alcohol consumption.

The research found the screening tool showed real promise for addressing gambling in primary health and community settings, and was an entry point to:

  • identify the level of gambling harm within community settings
  • support active referral of those experiencing gambling harm to support services
  • support a holistic approach to patient care by addressing gambling as part of comorbidities
  • de-stigmatise gambling harm

Other findings from the study included:

  • stigma poses a significant barrier to gambling treatment in culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • future implementation of screening in general practice and community services must have appropriate referral pathways in place to support patients
  • staff must be adequately trained to engage in conversations around gambling harm, recognise indicators of gambling harm, and provide the appropriate referral and help-seeking pathways
  • future research should examine the feasibility of embedding screening tools into practice management software systems

The report said: “In Australia, due to the high comorbidity between gambling harm and related issues addressed in primary care and community services, implementing gambling screening measures in these contexts is likely to be beneficial”.

Read the article
26 February 2024

As part of the Targeted Regional Initiatives for Suicide Prevention funding program South Western Sydney PHN has undertaken extensive consultation and co-design to identify barriers to seeking help, and to enhance and improve access to local services.

Key findings from the consultation process told us stigma and a lack of awareness about suicide and local services, along with a lack of culturally appropriate supports were significant barriers to people seeking help.

Recommendations from co-design include:

  • Ensuring non-clinical and peer-led mentoring services promoting social connectedness are known
  • Establishing peer-led support services to connect people who have similar experiences of suicidality or suicide bereavement
  • Funding public awareness campaigns to breakdown stigma and encourage help-seeking

As a key measure to address co-design recommendations, SWSPHN is offering Suicide Prevention Grants of between $50,000 and $200,000 for regional initiatives.


What activities will be funded?

Activities delivered under these grants must aim to:

  • Promote social connectedness and reduce loneliness through peer approaches; and/or
  • Reduce stigma around suicide and promote help seeking through increased awareness of suicide and increased access to relevant local services

These activities must focus on priority populations including men, First Nations people, recent refugees, veterans, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people living in semi-rural and rural areas, those experiencing financial hardship, and people who identify as LGBTQIA+.

See guidelines for more details.


Who can apply?

The following can apply:

  • Non-government and government funded organisations
  • Community managed organisations or groups
  • Private entities

SWSPHN will only accept one submission per grant applicant. Applicants must have an ABN or partner with an organisation with an ABN to manage the grant on their behalf.

See all terms and conditions in the Suicide Prevention Grants Guidelines.


How to apply

To apply:
Step 1: Review Regional Suicide Prevention Grant Guidelines
Step 2: Download and complete the Expression of Interest
Step 3: Email the completed application form to communitygrants@swsphn.com.au by 5pm, 25 March, 2024.

Late applications will not be accepted.

22 February 2024

Workers from community organisations in Fairfield city are invited to a capacity building workshop around tackling gambling harm, on Monday, 11 March from 10am to noon, at Fairfield Youth and Community Centre.

The free workshop, Tackling Gambling Harm in Our Community:  Effective Strategies and Community Engagement, will:

  • present community concerns about gambling-related harm in Fairfield city
  • discuss evidence-based strategies to mitigate harm
  • provide a platform for idea exchange, information sharing, advocacy, and networking
  • explore opportunities for forming and strengthening local action groups that involve community workers and residents

The workshop is being presented by the Fairfield City Health Alliance Gambling Working Group, a partnership between Fairfield City Council, South Western Sydney Local Health District and SWSPHN.

A light lunch will be provided.

Reserve a spot
20 February 2024

The eligibility criteria for the You in Mind service has been revised to better meet the needs of our community, following a thorough review.

The provisional (non-GP) referral pathway to the You in Mind service has also been permanently closed following the review.

Patients can continue to be referred to You in Mind via GP referrals and Head to Health.

You in Mind is for residents of South Western Sydney with moderate to severe mental illness, who experience barriers to accessing the Medicare Better Access Initiative.

Clients must come from a priority population group, including those who are:

  • financially disadvantaged
  • experiencing homelessness
  • primarily speaking a language other than English at home
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • experiencing perinatal depression
  • older people
  • residents of rural areas of Wollondilly and Wingecarribee who are geographically isolated and socially disconnected from mental healthcare

Referrals to the You in Mind services delivered by One Door and Connection Emotion Reflection have now re-opened.

20 February 2024

The Australia and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders (ANZAED) has expanded its ANZAED Eating Disorder Credential to GPs to enhance the effectiveness and consistency of care for eating disorders.

The credential for GPs emphasises early identification and initial response for people with eating disorders, encompassing screening, assessment, diagnosis and referral to appropriate treatment providers.  

The ANZAED Eating Disorder Credential for GPs will provide formal recognition of qualifications, knowledge, and training needed to meet minimum standards for the delivery of safe and effective eating disorder care.

Importantly, it connects help-seekers with Credentialed Eating Disorder Clinicians through a searchable directory on the connect·ed website

A webinar will be held on Wednesday, 27 March from 12pm to 12.30pm to provide more information.

Register for webinar

20 February 2024

SWSPHN is seeking expressions of interest (EOIs) from GPs who are willing to provide diabetes management care to patients being discharged from hospital psychiatric units. 

GPs will participate in a diabetes case conference alongside an endocrinologist and community mental health teams.

GPs will be able to claim $221.90 through Medicare for participating in a 40-minute case conference consultation.

Patients will continue to be supported with psychiatric care by the community mental health service.

GPs will continue to provide ongoing care for these patients.

EOIs close on Friday, 15 March.

19 February 2024

Safe Haven is a NSW Government-funded alternative to visiting the hospital emergency department when you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide.

This is a free mental health support which aims to reduce the incidence of suicide in our region. 

If you or someone you care about is experiencing thoughts of suicide, which might present as mild depression, deep sadness, emotional distress, helplessness or self-harm, Safe Haven is somewhere to go for support.

Peer support workers at Safe Haven have their own lived experience of suicidal distress, they understand what you might be going through and can support you through it.

Anyone is welcome at Safe Haven. There is no need to give your name or Medicare information to staff. Safe Haven is a private and confidential service provided for people aged 16 and over. For anyone below the age of 16, Safe Haven requires a parent or guardian to attend.

The Way Back Support Service (a Beyond Blue model) – one of SWSPHN’s commissioned services – is co-located at Safe Haven. The teams work together to support people at risk of suicide.

Find out more on YouTube

What is Safe Haven?

Why should I visit?

A glimpse into a visit

The role of a peer worker

29 January 2024

The Making the most of mental health questionnaires webinar will be held on Thursday, 8 February from 1pm to 2pm (register here) and again from 8pm to 9pm (register here).

The webinar is RACGP-accredited for 1 CPD hour (Educational Activities).

Clinical psychologist Dr Peter Baldwin will take participants through how self-report questionnaires work, how to choose a questionnaire, and how to quickly and effectively interpret the scores.

The Supporting Families when Dementia Comes Knocking webinar will be held on Thursday, 27 February from 12.30pm to 1pm (register here).

Dr Hilton Koppe, GP Educator at Dementia Training Australia and facilitator of the Dementia in Practice podcast, will explore how health professionals can support community members in assisting a person maintain their dignity and a good quality of life after a diagnosis of dementia.

29 January 2024

South Western Sydney PHN (SWSPHN) welcomes Community Links Wellbeing as the new commissioned service provider for the STAR4kids program in the Camden, Wollondilly and Wingecarribee Local Government Areas (LGAs). 

Community Links Wellbeing is a not-for-profit non-government organisation which supports clients to achieve positive individual and community outcomes through events, groups, workshops, youth programs, crisis support, carer and family support, and allied and mental health services. 

Community Links Wellbeing will take over management of the STAR4Kids program from At Full Potential Pty Ltd on Thursday, 1 February. 

STAR4kids provides free psychological therapies to children aged three to 12 years with, or at risk of, developing a mild to moderate mental illness, including depression, anxiety or stress disorders.  

The service consists of up to 12 hours of free psychological support with a mental health professional (psychologist, mental health nurse or accredited social worker) who has experience working with children. 

SWSPHN’s Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs Manager, Jade Weidner, thanked At Full Potential Pty Ltd for their work in delivering STAR4kids for seven years, and for working closely with Community Links Wellbeing to ensure the smooth transition of the service and continuity of care for clients. 

“We want to assure our community the STAR4kids service in Camden, Wollondilly and Wingecarribee will continue under the care of Community Links Wellbeing,” she said. 

“SWSPHN has a long relationship with Community Links Wellbeing which already provides a number of SWSPHN-commissioned holistic and solution-focused mental health and wellbeing services in the region.” 

For clients under a current referral and working with a STAR4Kids mental health clinician within Camden, Wollondilly and Wingecaribee LGAs, there will be no immediate change. You will continue to be treated by your current clinician until you have completed your referral. 

All new referrals will be managed and allocated services by Community Links Wellbeing. 

How to access STAR4kids 

If you are a parent or carer you can gain access to the program for your child by visiting your GP for a referral. You will need to book a longer GP appointment, so your child can be assessed, and a referral and GP Mental Health Treatment Plan (for Children) is completed. 

Referrals can also be made through approved referrers such as early childhood centres, teachers and school counsellors. 

Referrals by health professionals 

GPs and other health professionals may make referrals to this service through SWSPHN’s Mental Health Central Intake

12 January 2024

One in five Australian adults aged 16 to 85 years will experience a mental illness each year and almost half will experience a mental disorder in their lifetime.

Given GPs are often the first contact point when a mental health issue emerges, a new tool is being rolled out across South Western Sydney to improve how patients seeking mental health support are assessed and referred.

SWSPHN is providing GPs and commissioned service providers with training to use the Initial Assessment and Referral (IAR) Decision Support Tool (DST), an initiative of the Department of Health and Aged Care.

Why the tool was developed

GPs are the most commonly consulted mental health professionals in the country and hold significant expertise in their position as generalists and providers of holistic, lifelong care.

GPs make about 75 per cent of referrals to SWSPHN’s commissioned mental health services.

As the first point of contact for many patients seeking mental health support, it is vital GPs are equipped to provide the best possible support and care to those seeking help.

The IAR-DST assists GPs in recommending the most appropriate level of care.

How the tool helps

SWSPHN commissions a range of services across the stepped care spectrum to meet the mental health needs of our community.

These include: low-intensity services, psychological therapies, specialised services for children, young people, people with severe mental illness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, among others.

The IAR DST is designed to assist the various parties involved in the assessment and referral process to ensure:

  • Patients are guided to the option which best meets their needs, and has the least burden on them and the health system
  • Best use is made of the full range of options available to assist people in need in a way which targets resources to where they are needed most

Ultimately, the IAR will help streamline referral pathways and improve service visibility.

How it works

An initial assessment is used to gather information from the referrer and patient. The assessment is undertaken across eight domains which aim to describe clinical severity and service needs, and guide decisions on the most appropriate next steps (for example, intervention, further assessment).

Find more information by downloading:

About the training

Two hours of training is available to assist GPs in implementing the IAR tool into their daily practice.

The training includes an introduction to IAR; orientation to the domains, levels of care, and the decision support tool; information on clinical judgement and supported decision-making; and a practical activity using case studies to the IAR in referral, assessment and intake settings.

A $300 once-off incentive payment is available per GP and CPD hours apply.

Feedback from GPs

SWSPHN has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from GPs who have completed the training, with many recognising the benefits of using the IAR-DST to improve patient outcomes and welcoming the opportunity to learn more about SWSPHN’s commissioned mental health services.

What’s next

The IAR-DST is being adapted and will be rolled out for children, adolescents and older adults in 2024.

The department is working on digital integration of the IAR-DST in general practice software.

Currently, general practice can access the tool through the:

Smart Referral Form


GP Referral Template which is compatible with their software, which they will be given after completing the training. The IAR-DST is included in this template.

How to find out more about

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an in-person workshop, please do not hesitate to email Brendan.Chiew@swsphn.com.au

Alternatively, you can attend one of our virtual sessions which are listed on the CPD Event Page on SWSPHN’s website.