Townsville CAMHS, Australia: 2013


Story provided by Deborah Flegler (Acting Team Leader) and Dannielle Charge (Team Leader)

“An Australian Story – CAPA four years on”

Name of service:

Townsville, QLD Child & Youth Mental Health Service

When started CAPA

March 2008

Service description:

Townsville is the largest city north of the state capital Brisbane. Total population is 169,000. We are a medium size multidisciplinary team .

CAPA experience

After a few planning days, staff development training day and an enthusiastic team that completed the Wait List Blitz, we were on our way.

We have been using CAPA for 4 years now and can’t imagine going back to our old system!


Townsville CYMHS has had an increase in referrals which we have been able to monitor since the introduction of CAPA. We have noticed trends in certain months regarding influx in referral numbers (March and November!) and this has enable us to flex our capacity throughout these periods each year.

We have noticed that depending on our demand for service, the wait for a Choice appointment can range from around one to six weeks.

Changes over time

We have moved from 4 separate Choice clinics when we first implemented CAPA to 3 with a variety of appointment times available (morning and early afternoon) for families.

We have introduced in the past 12 months a pre- Choice team consultation with the consultant or Team Leader/Senior clinician. This in particular assists new clinicians and is working well.

We have just commenced a trial reminder SMS text system to our clients across the service and use this for the Choice appointments, first Partnership appointments and specialist appointments and we are interested to see if it improves attendance rates to our service.

We have had a noticeable increase in referrals recently. Explanations for this may be because of expansion of our services to incorporate a day patient program, having a dedicated consultation liaison service at our local hospital, an increase in population within Townsville, or because it is now known by local services that CYMHS is more responsive than before (probably a combination of all of these factors!)

Sustaining CAPA

We have regular team away and Staff Development days. The team leader regularly monitors and reviews caseloads and does “the numbers” and the management team is supportive and understands the model. We have a number of clinicians that remember how things were pre-CAPA (waiting periods, case loads numbers, client complaints) and this helps remind us why we do things the way we do.

Due to close monitoring of our numbers and being able to demonstrate “true demand” it seems that we may be allocated an additional clinical position in the near future.

What do you like?

What helped?

Administration staff who understand the system and explain it (when required) to the families when they ring to book in for Choice.

A dedicated Intake Officer to manage referrals and organise “priority” appointments.

Problems and advice?

It is imperative that your administration team understand CAPA and their vital role in supporting the model and the systems within it.

With an increase in demand for service – CAPA has enabled us to reflect on which areas of our service as a team we need to focus on and has given us structure to trouble shoot.

3 Tips...

And finally- 3 tips to get going and keep going

  1. ‘The Waiting List Blitz was not as difficult was we thought it would be.’
  2. Regular team away days to focus on the model and acknowledge what is working well and problem solve aspects that aren’t working as well.
  3. Regular Intake meetings (daily) are important

CAPA compliance: 95%

Team photo