Data source

National Mental Health Establishments Database

Collection of data for the Mental Health Establishments (MHE) NMDS began on 1 July 2005, replacing the Community Mental Health Establishments NMDS and the National Survey of Mental Health Services. The main aim of the development of the MHE NMDS was to expand on the Community Mental Health Establishments NMDS and replicate the data previously collected by the National Survey of Mental Health Services. The National Mental Health Establishments Database is compiled as specified by the MHE NMDS.

The scope of the MHE NMDS includes all specialised mental health services managed or funded, partially or fully, by state or territory health authorities. Specialised mental health services are those with the primary function of providing treatment, rehabilitation or community health support targeted towards people with a mental disorder or psychiatric disability. These activities are delivered from a service or facility that is readily identifiable as both specialised and serving a mental health care function.

The MHE NMDS data are provided at a number of levels: state, regional, organisational and individual mental health service unit. The data elements at each level in the NMDS collect information appropriate to that level. The state, regional and organisational levels include data elements for revenue, grants to non-government organisations and indirect expenditure. The organisational level also includes data elements for salary and non-salary expenditure, numbers of full-time-equivalent staff and consumer and carer worker participation arrangements. The individual mental health service unit level comprises data elements that describe the function of the unit. Where applicable, these include target population, program type, number of beds, number of accrued patient days, number of separations, and number of service contacts and episodes of residential care. In addition, the service unit level also includes salary and non-salary expenditure and depreciation.

Data Quality Statements for National Minimum Data Sets (NMDSs) are published annually on the Metadata Online Registry (METeOR). Statements provide information on the institutional environment, timelines, accessibility, interpretability, relevance, accuracy and coherence.

Data validation

Data presented in this publication are the most current data for all years presented. The validation process rigorously scrutinises the data for consistency in the current collection and across historical data. The validation process applies hundreds of rules to the data to test for potential issues. Jurisdictional representatives respond to each issue before the data are accepted as the most reliable current data collection. This process may highlight issues with historical data. In such cases, historical data may be adjusted to ensure data are more consistent. Therefore, comparisons made to previous versions of Mental health services in Australia publications should be approached with caution.

Consumer committee representation arrangements

Specialised mental health organisations report the extent to which consumer participation arrangements are in place to promote the inclusion of mental health consumers in the planning, delivery and evaluation of the service. Organisations report their consumer participation arrangements at various levels, as detailed below.

Data source FAC.1 Levels of consumer participation arrangements

Level Description

Level 1

Formal position(s) for consumers exist on the organisation’s management committee for the appointment of person(s) to represent the interests of consumers. Alternatively, specific consumer advisory committee(s) exists to advise on all relevant mental health services managed by the organisation.

Level 2

Specific consumer advisory committee(s) exists to advise on some but not all relevant mental health services managed by the organisation. 

Level 3

Consumers participate on a broadly based advisory committee that includes a mixture of organisations and groups representing a wide range of interests.

Level 4

Consumers are not represented on any advisory committee but are encouraged to meet with senior representatives of the organisation as required. Alternatively, no specific arrangements exist for consumer participation in planning and evaluation of services. 

National standards for mental health services review status

There are 8 levels used to describe the extent to which a service unit has implemented the National Standards, as shown in the table below.

Data source FAC.2 National standards for mental health services review status levels

Level Description
1 The service unit had been reviewed by an external accreditation agency and was judged to have met the National standards as determined by the accrediting agency.
2 The service unit had been reviewed by an external accrediting agency and was judged to have met some but not all of the National standards. 
3 The service unit was in the process of being reviewed by an external accrediting agency but the outcomes were not known. 
4 The service unit was booked for review by an external accrediting agency and was engaged in self‑assessment preparation prior to the formal external review. 
5 The service unit was engaged in self‑assessment in relation to the National standards but did not have a contractual arrangement with an external accreditation agency for review.
6 The service unit had not commenced the preparations for review by an external accrediting agency but this was intended to be undertaken in the future.
7 It had not been resolved whether the service unit would undertake review by an external accrediting agency under the National standards. 
8 The National standards are not applicable to this service unit. 

Source: National Standards for Mental Health Services status (see METeOR ID: 573549).

Reporting levels for national standards

To match definitions in the National Key Performance Indicator set for Mental Health Services, the data presented are restricted to 4 levels. Level 1 represents code 1, Level 2 represents code 2, Level 3 represents codes 3 and 4 and Level 4 represents codes 5–7. Code 8 is excluded as the standards do not apply to these units.

The national standards for mental health services were revised in 2010  (DoH 2010). In addition to these mental health-specific national standards, other national standards have been published and implemented against which mental health services may also be measured. Work is ongoing to improve the method for reporting the standards against which a service is measured.

New South Wales CADE and T-BASIS services

All New South Wales Confused and Disturbed Elderly (CADE) 24-hour staffed Residential mental health care services were reclassified as specialised mental health non-acute admitted patient hospital services, termed Transitional Behavioural Assessment and Intervention Service (T-BASIS), from 1 July 2007. All data relating to these services have been re-classified from 2007–08 onwards, including number of services, number of beds, staffing and expenditure. Comparison of data over time should therefore be approached with caution.

New South Wales Housing Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI) Program

Since 2006, New South Wales has been developing the NSW Housing Accommodation Support Initiative (HASI) Program. This model of care is a partnership program between NSW Ministry of Health, Housing NSW and the non-government organisation (NGO) sector that provides housing linked to clinical and psychosocial rehabilitation services for people with a range of levels of psychiatric disability. These services are out-of-scope as residential services according to the Mental Health Establishments NMDS, however, are reported as Supported housing places. See the above hyperlink for further information about the NSW HASI program.

From 2017–18 New South Wales supported housing places reflect changes resulting from the conclusion of the Commonwealth National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Mental Health Services. The NSW Government continued funding until Dec 2017 to allow for transition to alternative support arrangements (including the NDIS) for up to 200 people in NPA funded supported housing places.

Rates calculations

Calculations of rates for target populations are based on age-specific populations as defined by the MHE NMDS metadata and outlined below.

  • General services: persons aged 18–64.
  • Child and adolescent services: persons aged 0–17.
  • Youth services: persons aged 16–24.
  • Older persons: persons aged 65 and over.
  • Forensic services: persons aged 18 and over.

Crude rates were calculated using the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated resident population (ERP) at the midpoint of the data range (for example, rates for 2017–18 data were calculated using ERP at 31 December 2017). Historical rates have been recalculated using revised ERPs based on the 2011 Census of Population and Housing, as detailed in the online technical information.

Private Health Reporting

Private Health Establishments Collection

From 1992–93 to 2016–17 (excluding 2007–08) the ABS conducted a census of all private hospitals licensed by state and territory health authorities and all freestanding day hospitals facilities approved by the Commonwealth Department of Health. As part of that census, data on the staffing, finances and activity of these establishments were collected and compiled in the Private Health Establishments Collection. Additional information on the Private Health Establishments Collection can be obtained from the ABS publication Private hospitals, Australia (ABS 2018).

The data definitions used in the Private Health Establishments Collection are largely based on definitions in the National health data dictionary (NHDD) published on the AIHW’s Metadata Online Registry (METeOR) website (AIHW, 2015). The ABS defines private psychiatric hospitals as those licensed or approved by a state or territory health authority and which cater primarily for admitted patients with psychiatric, mental or behavioural disorders
(ABS 2018 ). This is further defined as those hospitals providing 50% or more of the total patient days for psychiatric patients. This definition can be extended to include specialised units or wards in private hospitals, consistent with the approach in the public sector. For further technical information, see the Private psychiatric hospital data section of the National mental health report 2013 (DoH 2013).

The last data were collected for the 2016–17 period. Increases in psychiatric beds were the result of improvements in methodology to apportion the data between psychiatric and alcohol/drug treatment wards, new establishments reporting for the first time, and a general increase in psychiatric beds in establishments that have reported psychiatric units in the past.Caution is required when comparing data for 2010–11 to other years as the survey was altered such that psychiatric units could no longer be separately identified from alcohol/drug treatment units. Therefore, the data for beds, patient days, separations and staffing were estimates based on reported 2010–11 data and trends observed in previous years. Data from the Private Mental Health collection suggest that these data may be underestimates  (PMHA 2013).

Private Psychiatric Hospitals Data Reporting and Analysis Service

The Australian Private Hospitals Association Private Psychiatric Hospitals Data Reporting and Analysis Service (PPHDRAS), previously known as the Private Mental Health Alliance Centralised Data Management Service (PMHA CDMS), was launched in Australia in 2001 to support private hospitals with psychiatric beds to routinely collect and report on a nationally agreed suite of clinical measures and related data for the purposes of monitoring, evaluating and improving the quality of and effectiveness of care. The PPHDRAS works closely with private hospitals, health insurers and other funders (e.g. Department of Veterans’ Affairs) to provide a detailed quarterly statistical reporting service on participating hospitals’ service provision and patient outcomes.

The PPHDRAS fulfils two main objectives. Firstly, it assists participating private hospitals with implementation of their National Model for the Collection and Analysis of a Minimum Data Set with Outcome Measures. Secondly, the PPHDRAS provides hospitals and private health funds with a data management service that routinely prepares and distributes standard reports to assist them in the monitoring and evaluation of health care quality. The PPHDRAS also maintains training resources for hospitals and a database application which enables hospitals to submit de-identified data to the PPHDRAS. The PPHDRAS produces an annual statistical report. In 2017–18, the PPHDRAS accounted for 98% of all private psychiatric beds in Australia.

From 2017–18, all private hospital data is sourced from PPHDRAS. Data on expenditure and Staffing (FTE) are not collected in PPHADRAS.

Population data

Population estimates used to calculated population rates were sources from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.


ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2018. Private hospitals, Australia, 2016–17. ABS cat. no. 4390.0. Canberra: ABS.

AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2015. National Health Data Dictionary 2012 version 16.2. Cat. no. HWI 131. Canberra: AIHW.

AIHW 2019. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations: Online Services Report — key results 2017–18. Cat. no. IHW 212. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed November 2019

DoH (Department of Health) 2010. National Standards for Mental Health Services . Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. Viewed December 2018.

DoH 2013. National mental health report: tracking progress of mental health reform in Australia, 1993–2011. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

PMHA (Private Mental Health Alliance) 2013. Private Hospital-based Psychiatric Services 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012. PMHA-CDMS annual statistical report for the 2011–2012. Private Mental Health Alliance.