Interagency collaboration in primary mental health care: lessons from the Partners in Recovery program

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Background: Collaborative care is a means of improving outcomes particularly for people with complex needs. The Partners in Recovery (PIR) program, established in Australia in 2012, provides care coordination to facilitate access to health and social support services for people with severe and persistent mental illness. Of the 48 PIR programs across Australia, 35 were led by Medicare Locals, the previous Australian regional primary health care organisation and nine involved Medicare Locals as partner organisations. Aims: To identify features which enabled and hindered collaboration in PIR programs involving Medicare Locals and determine what can be learnt about delivering care to this population. Methods: Data were collected from 50 interviews with senior staff at Medicare Locals and from eight focus groups with 51 mental health stakeholders in different Australian jurisdictions. Results: Successful PIR programs were based upon effective collaboration. Collaboration was facilitated by dedicated funding, a shared understanding of PIR aims, joint planning, effective network management, mutual respect and effective communication. Collaboration was also enhanced by the local knowledge and population health planning functions of Medicare Locals. Jurisdictional boundaries and funding discontinuity were the primary barriers to collaboration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number37
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Systems
Early online date31 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2019

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creative, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


  • Partners in Recovery
  • Interagency collaboration
  • Mental illness
  • Care coordination


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