Forums Home

Lived Experience Forum

Acceptance, connection, support. Share the journey.

Safe, anonymous discussion for people living with mental illness, moderated 24/7 by mental health professionals.

Read the community guidelines
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Useful resources

Community Guide

ATAPS changes?

I was looking around at local support services/programs and noticed some changes regarding Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS). It looks like ATAPS is being phased out but similar programs are being offered under a mental health services Stepped Care Model (info links about halfway down the page) which is being rolled out.


I'm confused and the more I look into it, the more confused I am getting. I can't quite work out exactly what these changes mean, if much at all, for consumers, so I was wondering whether anyone here may know about this?


I'm particularly interested in working out if the programs/services replacing ATAPS will still work the same way in relation to the Better Access initiative. My understanding is that you couldn't have both Better Access and ATAPS sessions in one year - does anyone know if that will still be the case?


Also, would anyone know where to find info (that's not an overwhelming mess of links and documents) about the changes or services offered?


Lots of questions - thanks in advance to anyone who might be able to help ☺


Tags (1)

Re: ATAPS changes?

Hi @CheerBear

Indeed it is all a little confusing! My understanding is that exactly what is offered may depend on your individual primary health network (PHN). One way to find out more might be to contact your local PHN or see if you can find the info on their website. You can locate your PHN using the link below:

I hope that helps a little!

It would be great to hear if anyone has experience of accessing any of these programs through their PHN.

Re: ATAPS changes?

Thanks heaps for replying @Acacia ☺ I didn't think to look for a contact number for my PHN (face palm myself!). I'll give them a call and see if I can find some answers to my questions.

I thought it may depend on the PHN when I tried to find one name (program/service etc) that has replaced ATAPS and I couldn't. Instead I found names like Psychological Support Services, Psychological Therapies Services, Accessible Psychological Interventions, Targeted Psychological Support Sevices etc. So many acronyms 🙄

It was confusing enough already - this seems so much harder to understand and work with!

Re: ATAPS changes?

i had a look at the link @Acacia and read some of the info on the page you posted @CheerBear - so confusing... and SO much to try to understand. So confusing when changes are made but nobody quite knows whats going on. It also seemed from reading some of it that even more responsibility will rest with GP's particularly in country areas... seems overwhelming.


Re: ATAPS changes?

I went off on a hunt for more info about this today including a call to someone from my PHN to ask them about the changes and services.

What I found is that what was ATAPS is now a similar service but trying to take a more targeted and population specific focus. It looks like the populations focused on vary across PHNs though there are many similarities. Target groups that I found include people living in rural and remote communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people experiencing homelessness, people who identify as LGBTQI, people experiencing family violence, CALD communities, and refugee and asylum seekers.

The eligibility criteria also seems to differ between PHNs though I found some similarities across most that I looked into, including health care card holders or people with a low income, and people experiencing moderate mental health issues. I found at least one PHN where the criteria also included people who do not have access to the NDIS.

I also found some exclusion criteria in some PHNs including people with severe mental health issues or people experiencing an acute episode, as well as some diagnosis specific exclusions in one PHN I looked at. For people who fall into these categories, there are more intensive support services available.

I called someone from the PHN I live in and found that what was ATAPS is still 12 sessions (6 + 6). I asked about whether I could access these (if I meet the eligibility criteria, which I may not now) if I have used some or all of my 10 Medicare subsidised sessions through Better Access, and I was told "maybe" and that it is up to the discretion of the person processing the referral. Many of my questions were answered with vague responses, and information that was a little different to what was written on the PHN website.

A GP referral is needed in order to access any of the services provided where I am, with it being recommended I attach a support letter from my psychologist or psychiatrist if I can also. A GP referral to access services looks pretty standard across most of the networks.

So that's where I got with it all this afternoon, which I thought I'd share in case anyone reads this thread wondering about ATAPS (and wanted to sit though this long and maybe kind of boring post 😉).

Re: ATAPS changes?

Thank you for finding all that out and taking the time to share the information. I find it so frustrating that the services offered to different groups varies from place to place. The system is inherently unfair and largely people have to be fortunate enough to have a strong support or advocate who can find out this information or be as determined and amazing as you have been @CheerBear Smiley Happy The confusion isnt just amongst people who need the services but also the people providing the services and GP's who arent even sure who or how people can be referred it seems... frustrating...


Re: ATAPS changes?

The system is slowly changing.  One of the big benefits of being on this foum is learning more about the different systems.

It does not surpirse me @CheerBear that even the clerical people involved are not certain ...hmmmm.

SO how do people with profound MH issues get to know ...??

Worth posting. 

Re: ATAPS changes?

as far as i can find all goverment funding for disabilety and mentanl health organisations/departments will be fazed out and there will only be the ndis.this does include medicere funded psycolagist/psyciatrist visits and eventualy the dsp will be moved over to the ndis system.i can not tell you the sorse of this infomation but i can say NEVER VOTE LIBERAL and please get a proper spellcheck

For urgent assistance, call:


Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia (NT), MIFA(NT) is a non-government organisation providing services for people living with a mental illness and their carer’s and families. 


Image credit to Louise Denton Photography


2/273 Bagot Rd,
Coconut Grove, NT 0810

PO Box 40556,
Casuarina NT 0811

P: (08) 8948 1051
Freecall: 1800 985 944 
F: (08) 8948 2473   

Follow Us