About the ACDC Project
The Assisting Communities through Direct Connection (ACDC) project is a new initiative to connect people with the social and emotional wellbeing support services in their communities. The project takes an exploratory approach to directly reach out and connect with people who are not accessing support services, seek to understand their needs and concerns, and provide practical information and assistance to connect them with support to improve their social and emotional wellbeing.
The project is funded by the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) grant scheme of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). The project aims to reach people with social or emotional distress, especially those who belong to marginalised communities including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) communities, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities, LGBTQI+ communities, and rural and remote communities. The focus of ILC funding is to build innovative ways to increase the independence, social, community and economic participation of people with disability.
The project is evidence-based and co-designed with people who have a lived experience of social or emotional distress, carers, local community members, local services and state and territory peak organisations. The project uses a combination of best practice approaches including responsible door-to-door outreach and informed, community sensitive engagement. The outreach is undertaken by ‘People Connectors’ engaged by CMOs contracted by CMHA. The People Connectors complete a co-designed training program developed by the ACDC project team.
Outreach operates in each of the three years of the project in eight carefully selected communities from all Australian states and territories; and is preceded by an extensive engagement with stakeholders for consultation, co-design, and preparation. The engagement process leads to the formation of consultative groups including the project Steering Committee and Local Reference Groups. CMHA will evaluate and report on project learnings and outcomes.
Through connection with the ACDC project, people with experiences of social or emotional distress in Australia will be more aware of, and more connected with, CMOs. CMOs will also be more aware of the specific needs and sensitivities of their communities.
The project objectives are in four areas:
- Connecting with the disconnected
- Direct contact is made with people, their social and emotional wellbeing needs are identified together with them, and they are supported to access existing services
- Local CMOs are supported to connect directly with disconnected people in the communities where they operate.
- Information that can and will be used
- Households receive information about local and online social and emotional wellbeing information, services and contacts, including contacts for early intervention and crises and support, recovery and prevention services
- Barriers for people who do not access support from CMOs are understood and this information is shared with organisations and their funders so they can more effectively connect with people in their communities.
- Individual capacity building outcomes
- Where a short interaction has been successful, people are encouraged to participate in the short needs survey and encouraged to accept and use the information resources to take steps to access services to help with meeting these needs
- People Connectors are supported to increase their own community development skills by participating in the training and conducting outreach.
- Community capacity building outcomes
- Communities are supported through the identification of unmet service needs, and local groups are assisted to design and implement community initiatives to meet these.
It is envisioned that the project will reach out to 40,000 households in parts of Australia where people are less likely to be accessing support from CMOs, and provide:
- A local and online social and emotional wellbeing services reference guide (including NDIS and non-NDIS) that is codesigned, community specific, simple, attractive and durable.
- An information pack tailored to the needs of the individual or household.
- Support to connect with local and online social and emotional wellbeing services.
The ACDC project team will produce an ‘ACDC kit’, consisting of detailed written guidelines and a video or online training course which will allow the activities and products to be easily replicated and scaled up.
The project evaluation partner will work with the ACDC project team publish an evaluation of the project, which will inform future investment in similar social and emotional wellbeing outreach initiatives.
 The National Disability Insurance Agency, 2019
 Hillier, et al., 2014