Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is different about the ACDC Project?

The ACDC Project is an innovative project that offers a different Direct Connection or proactive outreach approach to linking people with services and assessing community needs. Rather than waiting for people to present themselves to services and ask for help, through the ACDC project each householder engaged with will be offered the opportunity to be informed about, or where possible linked with, appropriate services.

The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing found the prevalence of severe mental illness in the Australian community was 4.1%. and moderate mental illness was 6.6%. That survey showed that 64.8% of people with severe mental disorders and 40.2% of those with moderate mental disorders used services in the previous 12 months. Research also shows that help-seeking behaviour is very low in some communities.

2. What is door knocking?

It is exactly what is sounds like. The local Delivery Partner Organisation identify streets that will be visited and then do a letterbox drop to households in those streets to let people know they are coming.

They then walk household to household to ‘knock/buzz/ring’, with the aim of engaging the householder in a conversation about their mental, social and emotional wellbeing, identify any unmet needs and engage them in a survey.

The door knocking guidelines have been co-designed through a project working group, with representation of significant stakeholder groups including consumers and carers. A process of co-design and consultation with local stakeholders will precede the door knocking at each site.

People Connectors are intended to operate in pairs with a diversity of gender and cultures if practicable. They will knock on every door unless there is a reason not to.

3. What precautions are in place to account for the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Engaging People Connectors to go door to door to people’s homes carries an inherent risk of acquiring or transmitting infectious diseases, including COVID-19. CMHA mitigates this risk in the ACDC Project by:

  • Seeking and adhering to the advice of police, state and territory health authorities.
  • Not commissioning or undertaking ACDC Project activity in communities with significant established community transmission of COVID-19
  • Preferring that People Connectors engaged by Delivery Partners are residents of the local area that they are door knocking within, and not travelling significant distances to undertake the ACDC Project.
  • Asking the People Connector Team Leader to ensure the temperature of everyone in a People Connector team is measured at the beginning of each shift, and to ensure that any individual with a temperature over 37.2 degrees Celsius, fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or runny nose does not undertake any door-to-door activities until they have recovered.
  • Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, even mild symptoms must leave the site and get tested at a COVID-19 clinic and self-isolate until a negative result is received, in accordance with state or territory health guidelines.
  • Recommending that People Connectors have received the seasonal influenza vaccination and the COVID-19 vaccination when available.
  • Asking delivery partners to ensure that People Connectors always observe appropriate social distancing during the door knocking activity.

4. Why the door knocking approach? What evidence is there to suggest it is a more effective way of directly engaging, given some people find it quite confronting?

There is a significant body of evidence worldwide that many people with mental health issues do not engage in any form of “support or help seeking behaviour”1. Door knocking means that people are directly reached, and that information and linking is offered to people without their needing to ‘present’ or to assertively seek help. In this way the ACDC project brings potential access to mental health, emotional and social wellbeing services directly to people who may not connect in any other way.

At the same time the project will be able to measure the unseen mental health support needs in communities through the survey and collection of stories. Other forms of engagement would rely on people having information about where to go to seek information and assistance and making the time and effort to do so. ACDC seeks to eliminate these barriers to service access.

5. Have you considered that people may not want to answer the door or engage?

Yes, there has been a significant amount of discussion in relation to this. Ultimately, if people are not wanting to speak with a People Connector then of course their decision is respected. ACDC has been designed with assumptions that some people will not wish to engage, or will not be engaged for other reasons, for example they may not be home. We can only offer.

Prior to door knocking at each site, the ACDC team, in partnership with the Local Reference Group, will co-design and implement a pre-engagement and marketing strategy. A community level mapping exercise will inform the pre-engagement strategy, through which opportunities to introduce ACDC to the community will be identified. Pre-engagement strategies may involve the use of communication platforms such as local newspaper, radio and/or a letterbox drop, or a physical presence at community events.

The timing of the door knocking will be significant. Door knocking is intended to take place in the mid-morning, afternoons, early evenings, and some Saturdays, and if engagement with a People Connector is not preferred at the time the door is knocked, a rescheduled engagement by appointment will be offered. Similarly, if a door does not get answered, a ‘sorry we missed you’ appointment card will be left under the door with contact details and opportunities to reschedule at a time that suits the person.

6. What services do you endeavour to provide information about in the resource you leave with the household? Will they be just mental health services or broader services? What are the parameters?

The information products distributed to individuals and households is a significant output of ACDC and investment will be made to ensure that these are relevant and accessible to the targeted audience. Information products may contain information about local and online mental health services, as well as other social and emotional wellbeing services and supports.

Information products will be printed for distribution – these include a fridge magnet detailing local services, an overview document and local service flyers. A co-design process has been undertaken at the project level for the conceptualisation and initial design of information products.

7. How are you going to make sure that you have appropriate referral options for people? How are you going to avoid identifying needs in people and then not having referral or support options?

A part of the site validation process will be determining the local service capacities for responding to needs of people identified through ACDC. This process will be a tailored each potential site, and potential sites which are identified as not having a minimum level of service capacity may possibly be excluded.

ACDC intends to build capacity amongst existing service providers to enable them to offer more effective connection with members of their community. Through the local community engagement at each site, organisations will be identified, and a relationship developed which will enable warm referral pathways.

When appropriate ACDC will provide households with information about how they can advocate for needed services that are lacking in their area. In addition, where local groups advocating for needed services or developing community self-help options already exist households will be provided with those contact details.

8. Will ACDC really make a difference for people?

The Proactive Outreach approach is largely untested in Australia. As such CMHA and our partners are very interested in measuring its efficacy, and a significant investment will be made in research and evaluation of the project.

Given the untested nature of the Direct Connection approach, and the diversity of communities within which the project with operate, the ACDC project will only be a success through strong partnerships and inclusive co-design processes with stakeholders at all levels. As such, CMHA has invested significant resources into building partnerships and into the co-design processes.

9. How will the outcomes, and the success of the project, be measured?

There are several intended outcomes of the ACDC Project, and some will be easier to measure and report on than others. Objectives include:

  • Number of People Connector engagements with householders.
  • Number of each information product distributed.
  • Number of successful referrals made.
  • Number of surveys completed.
  • Stories collected.

A significant investment is being made in the evaluation of the ACDC project, which will report on the efficacy and the return on investment of the ACDC project, as well as how well the project met its stated objectives. The Centre for Social Impact has been retained to undertake the Evaluation.

10. What happens at the end of the project?

The project is intended to conclude in November 2022. By this time People Connectors will have distributed information about local and national mental health services to up to 45,000 individuals and households, collected 10,000 surveys and will have made referrals to services for those who required and consented to this.

Significant research, data analysis and the project evaluation will have concluded by this time, and final reports will be being prepared. Significant findings will have been shared at conferences, and an analysis of the return on investment of the direct connection approach will have been made available publicly. All personal data will be de-identified and destroyed in line with the terms of the ACDC data collection consent form.

The ACDC kit will be completed and made available publicly for adaption and use by any organisation in future iterations of the ACDC project.










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