KPMG was contracted to undertake the Stakeholder Consultation component of the evaluation to develop an understanding of:

  • perceived benefits and experiences of stakeholders in relation to access, appropriateness and effectiveness of the services;
  • impact of education and training activities undertaken as part of the Better Access initiative on existing practices and the treatment of patients; and
  • interaction between the Better Access initiative and other related initiatives.
KPMG adopted a staged approach to the consultation with national, state, regional and sub-regional stakeholders. These comprised psychiatrists, paediatricians, psychologists, general practitioners, social workers, occupational therapists, public mental health providers, non-government mental health providers, private hospitals, private health insurers, counsellors and therapists not eligible to provide services through the Better Access initiative and consumers and carers and their representative bodies. The consultations included individual and small group consultations, workshops, teleconferences of regional and remote service providers, consumers and carers and an online survey of service providers, consumers and carers. The consultations utilised a semi-structured approach with participants being provided with background information on the project and key issues to be discussed. As new issues were identified, these were discussed and probed in subsequent consultations. In excess of 1,300 individuals were consulted in the course of the project.

The strength of the approach adopted was the breadth of stakeholders consulted. Participants in the consultations were able to provide a richness of detail in their perceptions of the impact of the Better Access initiative on consumers and the wider mental health system.

A major limitation of the consultation process was that representatives of the professional bodies consulted with were familiar with and professionally engaged in the Better Access Initiative and individuals participating in the consultations (via teleconferences, small group consultations and direct contact with the project) selected themselves. Almost by definition, the individuals participating in the consultations were likely to be those with stronger opinions one-way or the other, than would occur in a random sample of service providers, consumers and carers. The stepwise process of the evaluation also meant that, although issues that were raised later in the evaluation, were tested in subsequent consultations, it was difficult to assess the relative strength of this opinion across stakeholders. Within the context of this potential for participant bias, the evaluation has not quantified the number of respondents holding a particular view but endeavoured to provide a broad indication of the weight of opinion in relation to specific issues.