Kiama Youth Mental Health National Broadband Network Project

Kiama Youth Mental Health National Broadband Network

(Illawarra Shoalhaven Medicare Local)

Duration: June 2012 – June 2014


Illawarra Shoalhaven headspace (youth mental health service) received funding to trial the use of NBN-enabled technologies to deliver their services to young people living in Kiama. Parts of the Kiama LGA have been connected to the NBN. These services were to be provided via very high definition video conferencing screens located in a client’s house or at an accessible location such as Kiama High School, Library or Community Centre and connected to the NBN. The aim of the Trial was to improve access to headspace services without prejudicing quality. CHSD was contracted to evaluate the trial.

What we did

At the commencement of the evaluation, CHSD undertook a targeted literature and practice review of technology enabled mental health services and then developed a detailed evaluation methodology. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with headspace clinicians at three time points during the project, and other key stakeholders were also interviewed at two time points. Qualitative analysis of these interviews was combined with data from a number of other sources, including data on headspace client service use and client responses to an online survey. The delays in the roll-out of NBN services resulted in lower than expected usage of the service and as such the trial was extended into 2014.

The evaluation found that videoconferencing technology delivered over the NBN could complement the delivery of more traditional face to face headspace services. However, there also appears to be some reluctance amongst young people to utilise services via videoconferencing when there are realistic and viable choices available.

Clinicians who used the video conferencing technology reported that they could build a therapeutic relationship with clients using the technology with some important provisos. The best approach may be the use of a blended approach where there is a combination of face-to-face engagement and video conferencing when it was convenient for the client or their family. The situation of the young person and family should be the key factor in determining the type of contact that should be used.

Last reviewed: 6 July, 2015

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