This project aimed to develop a best practice model for UCSA people to use in their initial engagement responses when someone first walks in to a service, beyond the standard initial intake and assessment process. Often, when a person seeks support from a community service, particularly for the first time, they have done so because they are experiencing a crisis. Frequently, however, the crisis for which they have sought help for is one aspect of a much more complex picture. The aim of this project was to identify and develop a rapid, seamless service assessment process that could be individualised to provide the best possible service for clients.

This project sought to develop a best practice protocol for UCSA people to use in their responses to people during the standard intake and assessment process. The project was undertaken in three steps. The first step was the development of a discussion paper outlining service assessment models from the national and international literature for UCSA people to consider. For the second step, UCSA people attended two workshops to provide their perspectives on what types of engagement models or tools would work in practice. Key to this process was developing a mutual understanding of UCSA strengths-based practice and the meaning of person-centred care. Participants considered a range of engagement models and tools that they use in daily practice as well as those selected from Australian and international best practice included in the discussion paper. The third step involved analysis of the workshop discussions and the development of an engagement model that may be feasibly adopted by UCSA. The engagement model proposed in this report includes supporting the person to consider the menu of potential services and programs that may benefit them from the outset and co-developing an action plan. The anticipated outcome of adopting this person-centred model is that people will be seamlessly connected with appropriate programs and services so they are enabled to flourish.

Recommendations below are designed to enable implementation of the engagement model across UCSA, based on workshop findings.


It is recommended that UCSA adopt the proposed Fast Track: a person-centred engagement model and link the model to program-specific engagement tools. Consistent with organisational policy, the model will
firstly need to undergo testing against the UCSA Reconciliation Action Plan and other relevant plans and
policies. It is further recommended that UCSA:

  • Establish outcome measures to assess the engagement model, including the number of referrals at
    baseline and resulting from the model over set time periods.
  • Provide strength based champions/ambassadors at each site that are familiar with the engagement
    model and report activities at all meetings (including executive team meetings).
  • Review recruitment processes, including position descriptions, to ensure the selection of UCSA
    people with strong interpersonal skills and the ability/values to work in a strength based way.
  • Provide training in basic counselling skills to all UCSA people so they can confidently ask clients
    questions that will cover key considerations.
  • Provide information to all UCSA people so that they have sufficient knowledge of the menu of
    internal and external services and programs to refer clients so that clients may be seamlessly
    connected with appropriate programs and services and enabled to flourish.
  • Ensure that the front of house at all sites provides an environment that allows a person to share
    confidential/personal information freely.
  • Continue to promote and enhance meaningful networking opportunities across UCSA
  • Continue to exercise a leadership role in facilitating meaningful networking opportunities across

Download the research report here