Consumer characteristics

Uptake by consumers

There were 91,798 ATAPS referrals in 2015–16 (a 6.3% increase from 2014–15), of which 72,447 (78.9%) had sessions recorded against the referral. This was a 1.9% increase in the proportion of referrals resulting in at least 1 ATAPS session (i.e. the number of ATAPS consumers) compared to 2014–15. The following sections are focused only on referrals that resulted in service uptake, defined as 1 or more sessions being provided by an ATAPS health professional.

The majority of consumers were referred to the Tier 1 General ATAPS initiative (44,891 or 62.0%). Of the 27,556 consumers referred to Tier 2 initiatives, about 2 in 5 (38.5%) were referred to the children initiative and about one quarter (26.4%) to suicide prevention services (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention).

Consumer demographics

Almost half (47.8%) of ATAPS consumers in 2015–16 were aged between 25 and 54, and about 2 in 5 (37.2%) were aged under 25. Rates ranged from 31.6 per 100,000 population for those aged 85 and over to 432.0 per 100,000 for those aged 15 to 24.

About two–thirds (63.7%) of ATAPS consumers in 2015–16 were female. Rates for females were about twice that for males or more in most age groups, except among those aged less than 15 years, where males were more likely to access ATAPS (Figure ATAPS.2).

Over 2 in 5 (43.9%) ATAPS consumers in 2015–16 had previously received psychiatric services (as indicated on the patient referral form).

The age-standardised rate of ATAPS consumers among Indigenous Australians was 826.1 per 100,000 population, which was over 4 times that of non-Indigenous Australians (193.0 per 100,000).

Source data: Access to Allied Psychological Services tables (150KB XLS)


Five main diagnostic categories are used to assign one or more diagnoses for each ATAPS adult consumer: Alcohol and drug use, Psychotic disorders, Depression, Anxiety disorders, and Unexplained somatic disorders. The children’s initiative nominally involves a different set of diagnostic categories; however in practice, all ATAPS diagnostic categories are used by ATAPS mental health professionals for consumers participating in the child initiative.

The mental health condition most commonly diagnosed among ATAPS consumers was Depression (44.7% of consumers), followed by Anxiety disorders (38.9%), Alcohol and drug use (3.9%), Psychotic disorders (1.5%) and Unexplained somatic disorders (1.1%)

Characteristics and outcomes of ATAPS sessions


The vast majority of consumers were referred to the ATAPS program by GPs (68,504 or 94.6%). The next most common referrer was ATAPS mental health professional (1,244; 1.7%), followed by paediatricians (412; 0.6%).

Session characteristics

The total number of ATAPS sessions delivered in 2015–16 was 351,239. About 9 out of 10 (86.4%) ATAPS sessions were of 46 to 60 minutes duration. About 8 in 10 (81.7%) were Individual treatment type sessions. Most sessions were delivered face to face (96.3%). A small proportion (3.6%) of ATAPS sessions involved a co-payment, with an average amount paid by the consumer of $15.36 per session.

About 3 in 5 (59.0%) ATAPS sessions were delivered under the Tier 1 General ATAPS initiative in 2015–16. Of the Tier 2 initiatives, the children initiative (42.5% of Tier 2 sessions) provided the largest number of sessions, followed by the suicide prevention initiative (29.7% including the ATSI Suicide Prevention initiative).

Of the 73,484 consumers who received ATAPS sessions during 2015–16 (including those whose initial referral was made during 2014–15), around 1 in 30 (2,487; 3.4%) received additional sessions (i.e. 13 to 18 sessions). About half (1,323; 53.2%) of consumers who received additional ATAPS sessions did so under the Tier 1 General ATAPS initiative. Of the Tier 2 services, consumers of suicide prevention initiatives (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention) were those next most likely to receive additional sessions (41.2% of Tier 2 consumers), followed by the children initiative (36.3%).