Mental Health – After hours support for NT Veterans

Here is DVA’s advice regarding after-hours care in Darwin for veterans experiencing an acute mental health crisis.


“The most appropriate response in a mental health emergency or acute crisis situation, irrespective of location, is for the individual to be admitted to the emergency department of their closest public hospital. In Darwin, this would be the Royal Darwin Hospital. Individuals would expect an assessment by the mental health on-call team and triage to either a public medical ward, a secure mental health facility, or discharge to the care of family/friend. This is a universal best-practice response to dealing with acute mental health crises, particularly in instances where an individual is suspected of being at risk to themselves or others. The Northern Territory Government also recommends that residents experiencing a crisis contact the Northern Territory Mental Health Access Team by calling the NT Mental Health Line: 1800 682 288.


The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) offers a specialised after-hours crisis telephone service, Veterans’ Line, which affords a degree of immediacy and anonymity to individuals in crisis. In 2015-16, over 6200 individuals called this national service. In the event that an individual is in an acute crisis, the service may contact local emergency services so that the individual can be appropriately assessed by health professionals. Where there is not a crisis but serious concerns, the police may be called and a welfare check requested.


Wherever possible, VVCS will endeavour to assist and facilitate access to an appropriate counsellor or secondary referral, however VVCS is a community-based mental health service provider. VVCS core business is not responding as a crisis service for acute mentally-ill patients – the most appropriate course of action is admission to an emergency department of the local hospital. If individuals have concerns regarding their own mental health or that of others, they can contact VVCS to discuss. If an individual is concerned about VVCS treatment or accessibility, they may contact Mr Marcus Schmidt, Director VVCS SA/NT on 1800 011 046 or [email protected].


Where it is necessary for individuals to access specialised longer term care following an acute episode, and that treatment cannot be provided locally, DVA can pay for travel. The client is not expected to pay and seek reimbursement.  Under the Repatriation Transport Scheme, DVA can arrange travel (including air travel) to enable a client to seek the most appropriate form of medical treatment from the closest practical provider. In instances where this occurs, consideration is given to the stability of the client’s condition(s), the location of family and supports, and the type of treatment required.


Note that Lifeline is a national telephone service and calls to Lifeline may be made from Darwin. A list of after-hours telephone services is available on the Northern Territory (NT) Government website

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