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Annual Report 2022/23


In 2022-23 FY, six program evaluations were completed. Three were evaluated as part of an external National program evaluation and three were undertaken and/or commissioned by CESPHN.  

These included

  • South Eastern Sydney Schools Collaborative (Phase 2) 
  • Regional Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan  
  • The Way Back Support Service – External National Evaluation 
  • Primary Care Telehealth Alcohol Withdrawal and Recovery program – External National Evaluation 
  • Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) Pilot (Phase 1) – External National Evaluation 
  • Early Intervention Speech Pathology

South Eastern Sydney Schools Collaborative (Phase 2) – Commissioned Evaluation 

CESPHN engaged Hecate Consulting to undertake a baseline evaluation of the South East Sydney (SES) Schools Collaborative program in 2021 and 2022.  

The evaluators found that before the project commenced there were substantial barriers to children and families accessing timely health and community services. Stakeholders reported that delays in accessing support significantly impacted children’s learning, engagement, attendance and the mental health of parents and carers. 

Work undertaken by the project’s Care Navigator was recognised as critical in assisting families to access developmental and allied health care assessments; service systems including NDIS; and support addressing the social determinants of health including housing, transport and food security. It was expressed that the SES Schools Collaborative holds immense value for the schools. 

Hecate identified a range of early signs of impact, enablers and challenges for the program.  One enabler identified was creating conditions for collaboration through building capacity, relationships and a shared sense of purpose. Project run community events were found to strengthen relationships and trust between the school community, school staff and participating services. Additionally, strong referral pathways were established between the Care Navigator and Sydney Children’s Hospital Network (SCHN) which facilitated appropriate referrals into the SCHN system. Hecate made 13 recommendations for improvement. 

 Recommendations have resulted in: 

  • the revitalisation of the project’s vision and objectives 
  • strengthening collaboration and relationship building through the amalgamation of working groups 
  • the development of clear referral pathways and navigation into services 
  • community engagement events 
  • professional development training for teachers 
  • the development of promotional videos for the project 
  • the commencement of a quarterly project newsletter.  

CESPHN will continue to implement the evaluator’s recommendations and is committed to ensuring ongoing program improvement. 

Primary Care Telehealth Alcohol Withdrawal and Recovery Program – External National Evaluation 

CESPHN commissioned the Clean Slate Clinic to provide a GP-led, home based alcohol withdrawal service for patients with mild to moderate alcohol dependence. The service is delivered via telehealth, making it the first of its kind to be implemented in NSW Australia. It was first co-commissioned by CESPHN along with South Eastern NSW PHN and Northern Sydney PHN as a proof of concept in 2021 and an evaluation was completed to assess the service’s adoptability, patient acceptability, and effectiveness in assisting the process of GP-led home detox. 

Results of the study demonstrated that the service is:  

  • Highly adoptable with 82% of patients completing detox after being referred to the clinic and commencing treatment   
  • Highly acceptable with participants indicating that they were highly satisfied with the service.  
  • Effective in assisting the process of GP-led home detox, as indicated by the following measures taken 1 month post detox – 84% of participants were ‘meeting alcohol goals’; the mean number of standard drinks consumed weekly decreased from 76 at baseline to 5 ; changes in AUDIT scores ranged from 24.63 at baseline (high-risk, dependence likely) to 1.72 (low risk); changes in K10 scores ranged from 24.61 at baseline (high psychological distress) to 16 (moderate psychological distress). 

The study overall indicated that the Clean Slate Clinic is a feasible service model in terms of assisting participants with achieving their goals, substantially reducing alcohol intake and reducing psychological distress. 

The Way Back Support Service – External National Evaluation 

Nous Group was commissioned by Beyond Blue to conduct an independent evaluation of The Way Back Support Service nationally between June 2020 and December 2022 under the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care Agreement.  

The evaluation aimed to assess the delivery of The Way Back Support Service, evaluate participant experiences and outcomes, and identify factors contributing to recovery after a suicide attempts or crisis.  

The evaluators determined that The Way Back Support Service is highly effective as a non-clinical aftercare service in significantly improving outcomes for individuals who have experienced a suicide attempt or a suicidal crisis. Participants of The Way Back Support Service experienced significant improvements to their wellbeing and reductions to suicidality and psychological distress.  

Based on the evaluation, several recommendations were made for future aftercare services and the transition of The Way Back Support Service to a Universal Aftercare model in the near future. The recommendation includes exploring local variations in the service model through a co-design process with the aim of significant improvements in service access and outcomes for priority populations.  

In line with the recommendations from the evaluation, in 2023 CESPHN will undertake a consultation and co-design process to tailor the service model to better meet the needs of our region’s population.   

Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) Pilot (Phase 1) – External National Evaluation 

The Sax Institute, in partnership with Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), was commissioned by the Department of Health to evaluate the ‘Improving Health System Responses to Family and Domestic Violence PHN Pilot’ (DFV pilot). The evaluation occurred between July 2021 and November 2022 with six PHNs across three states. 

The DFV pilot focused on the development and delivery of training, resources and capacity building activities for primary care staff to enhance their capacity to recognise and respond to DFV, as well as a range of system integration activities to ensure that victim-survivors receive an improved quality of support.  

The evaluation aimed to understand if, why and how the pilot initiatives worked, and assessed the impact on primary health care worker capacity and integration with the family and domestic violence service response system. 

During the evaluation period: 

  • 225 training sessions were delivered, reaching 1700 primary care staff.  58 of these education sessions were delivered in the CESPHN region. 
  • System integrators (linkers/navigators) achieved 3500 supportive engagements across 800 general practices.
  • 25% of these interactions were DFV victim-survivor specific advice and supported GPs to make 250 referrals for patients into DFV specific services.  

Participating PHNs were also active in a wide range of system influencing bodies and entities, including local interagency groups and various state-wide government initiatives and collaboratives. 

The evaluation  helped build the evidence base to inform future policy directions and program planning in PHNs to ensure systems and individuals better recognise, respond and refer people impacted by DFV. 

Due to the success of the program, the Department of Health has extended funding to 2026 and expanded the program to include an additional five PHNs (making 11 PHN sites in total). The program will also be expanded to integrate a model of support for victims-survivors of sexual violence and child sexual abuse.