The eight Australian Services who comprise the Forum of Australia Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT) developed their capacity to establish a National Minimum Data Set (NMDS) in 2009. The NMDS collects consistent client clinical data across 12 clinical domains and 4 levels of severity. Data is analysed at each site and also centrally. This work has been able to reveal demographic and clinical trends over time. It has informed research and has enabled FASSTT to advocate for clients based on specific data about the nature and impact of their torture and trauma experiences.
Based on a comprehensive preparation phase involving research and consultation, a national working party was established with representatives from each FASSTT agency and the FASSTT National Coordinator. Members were selected based on: their in-depth knowledge of their agency's data collection and reporting methods; their understanding of service delivery; and having a level of seniority enabling them to make decisions. The working party was required to agree on data items to be reported nationally, implement decisions in their own agency, agree on appropriate standards for data quality and develop reporting protocols to a central data collection point. Quality issues were addressed in an ongoing manner by:
- Providing training to staff on data issues
- Running and checking regular data reports
- Developing and maintaining policies and procedures regarding data collection
- Regular discussion of data issues at staff meetings
- Simplifying data collection forms
- Using technological means to ensure data is entered correctly
- Supervising and supporting staff.
The FASSTT National Minimum Data Set has been in operation for 6 years. In the year 2013/14, the National Minimum Data Set revealed that FASSTT agencies assisted close to 16,000 individual survivors of torture and trauma from 114 countries speaking 119 languages. It further indicated trends around growing numbers of children and increasing indicators of severity of psychological symptoms over time. The profile of the refugee and humanitarian population is constantly changing and will continue to do so.
The data collected across Australian services also demonstrates significant experience of the FASSTT network and provides a powerful platform for FASSTT to advocate for public policy, systems advocacy and the preservation of human rights. The data tells a powerful of story of profound level of understanding of the experiences of this client group, their current psychological presentations and their needs for rehabilitation to move to their future.
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No conflicts of interest exist.