Unit of competency details

HLTAHW402B - Assess and support client's social and emotional well being (Release 1)


ReleaseStatusRelease date
1 1 (this release)Current 25/Mar/2011

Usage recommendation:
Is superseded by HLTAHW017 - Assess and support client's social and emotional wellbeingNew unit in HLT Health Training Package Release 1.0. Significant changes to elements and performance criteria.New evidence requirements for assessment, including volume and environment requirements 30/Jun/2013

Training packages that include this unit


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 061305 Indigenous Health  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 061305 Indigenous Health  04/Nov/2011 
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Modification History

Not Applicable

Unit Descriptor

Unit Descriptor 

This unit deals with the skills and knowledge required to assess clients in relation to their social and emotional well being and provide appropriate support and referral as a member of a multi-disciplinary team working with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities

Application of the Unit


This unit may be applied by those working individually (eg. in isolated practice) or as part of a team (eg. in a clinic or hospital)

Successful completion of this unit equips Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers to provide support related to social and emotional wellbeing and does not infer that they are qualified counsellors

It is imperative that cultural issues, including gender and kinship issues, are respected in the delivery, assessment and application of this competency unit

Licensing/Regulatory Information

Not Applicable


Not Applicable

Employability Skills Information

Employability Skills 

This unit contains Employability Skills

Elements and Performance Criteria Pre-Content

Elements define the essential outcomes of a unit of competency.

The Performance Criteria specify the level of performance required to demonstrate achievement of the Element. Terms in italics are elaborated in the Range Statement.

Elements and Performance Criteria



1. Obtain client history

1.1 Seek to establish a relationship of trust with the client and their family, including active promotion of and strict adherence to confidentiality

1.2 Obtain a socio -emotional history  from the client and/or their family, using available information from verbal, written and non-verbal sources

1.3 Seek information about relevant critical incidents  with due sensitivity and respect for the physical, emotional and cultural safety and security of those affected

1.4 Seek additional related information through consultation with significant others

1.5 Consult relevant allied professionals and available documentation in relation to the health of the client

1.6 Initiate health assessment in line with organisation policies and procedures

1.7 Identify, assess and record self-management issues for clients with chronic conditions

2. Assess client well being

2.1 Observe client closely and make notes relating to any signs of emotional disturbance 

2.2 Recognise basic signs and symptoms of mental disturbance and significant underlying emotional reactions to loss, grief and trauma, explore using an appropriate interviewing technique and record details

2.3 Recognise issues that may relate to transgenerational trauma and grief for the individual, family and community

2.4 Identify and record disturbances in behaviour that may suggest a psychiatric disability

2.5 Invite client and their family to discuss issues of concern in a supportive and confidential context

2.6 Identify relevant issues related to social and emotional well being

2.7 Promptly discuss with experienced staff identified indicators of depression or suicide risk, and refer client in line with organisation protocols

2.8 Provide client and their family with clear information on assessment findings and consult them about appropriate support options

2.9 Identify issues requiring mandatory notification  and report to supervisor and/or an appropriate authority

2.10 Identify client's self-management capacity and barriers

3. Provide support to client

3.1 Deliver support services with reference to any existing health care plan and in line with organisation procedures

3.2 Provide relevant information to support the client and their family and enable them to make informed decisions about their own social and emotional well being

3.3 Support client and family/ies to identify key self-management needs and goals and to determine appropriate self-care strategies

3.4 Suggest and explain appropriate stress reduction techniques and activities as required.

3.5 Refer client and/or their family/ies as required, in line with community, organisation and regulatory requirements

3.6 Refer serious or potentially serious issues to senior health staff for advice

3.7 Provide or initiate support and assistance as required to address issues of safety and well being of family and/or other victims

3.8 Maintain current, complete, accurate and relevant records for each client interaction

Required Skills and Knowledge


This describes the essential skills and knowledge and their level required for this unit.

Essential knowledge :

The candidate must be able to demonstrate essential knowledge required to effectively do the task outlined in elements and performance criteria of this unit, manage the task and manage contingencies in the context of the identified work role

This includes knowledge of:

  • Organisation policies and procedures relating to client confidentiality
  • Basic knowledge of human behaviour theories, including significant life events and developmental stages
  • Key elements of history taking in the context of social and emotional health and their significance
  • Significant presenting problems and appropriate avenues of further assessment or action
  • Underpinning knowledge of common presenting problems which lead to a suspicion that the client may experience social and or emotional distress or mental health problems
  • Correct procedures and protocols used in the assessment and management of common client presentations
  • Protocols to effectively assess, respond to and/or refer clients with presenting problems
  • Common signs/indicators of:
  • mental or psychiatric illness
  • depression
  • AOD misuse
  • suicide risk
  • child abuse/sexual assault
  • Advanced communication techniques to develop trust and elicit sensitive information
  • Appropriate stress reducing techniques / activities
  • Available social/ emotional, AOD and mental health services, available services and referral criteria and processes
  • Awareness of culturally secure SEWB assessment tools for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Underpinning knowledge of strategies to manage situations where client are distressed or actively demonstrate mental health symptoms
  • Principles of crisis intervention
  • Limits of own ability and authority

Essential skills :

It is critical that the candidate demonstrate the ability to:

  • Work independently and consistently in delivering primary health care services to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander clients, including:
  • Assessment of the client's socio-emotional health status, issues and needs
  • Initiating appropriate support services and information for the client and their family
  • Maintenance of client records and upholding client confidentiality

In addition, the candidate must be able to effectively do the task outlined in elements and performance criteria of this unit, manage the task and manage contingencies in the context of the identified work role

This includes the ability to:

  • Communicate effectively with client (and significant others) in a culturally safe manner
  • Maintain client confidentiality whilst obtaining necessary information
  • Elicit relevant information effectively
  • Take and record accurate, sufficiently comprehensive and relevant client health history
  • Explain assessment methods and procedures to client
  • Observe, note and recognise unusual physical, behavioural and body language indicators
  • Conduct a social / emotional health assessment
  • Conduct a mental health assessment
  • Distinguish between effects of transgenerational trauma and grief and psychiatric illnesses
  • Report and/or record assessment findings in line with organisation requirements
  • Create supportive atmosphere
  • Manage difficult behaviour / avoid confrontation
  • Explain/demonstrate/instruct client to use appropriate stress reducing techniques / activities
  • Organise and participate in debriefing sessions following critical incidents or stressful interactions
  • Differentiate between situations that require urgent or non-urgent action and or referral
  • Make timely and appropriate referrals, providing accurate and relevant details to clients and referral agencies

Evidence Guide


The evidence guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the Performance Criteria, Required Skills and Knowledge, the Range Statement and the Assessment Guidelines for this Training Package.

Critical aspects of assessment :

  • The individual being assessed must provide evidence of specified essential knowledge as well as skills
  • Consistency of performance should be demonstrated over the required range of situations relevant to the workplace
  • Where, for reasons of safety, space, or access to equipment and resources, assessment takes place away from the workplace, the assessment environment should represent workplace conditions as closely as possible

Conditions of assessment :

This unit includes skills and knowledge specific to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander culture

Assessment must therefore be undertaken by a workplace assessor who has expertise in the unit of competency or who has the current qualification being assessed and who is:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander him/herself


  • accompanied and advised by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person who is a recognised member of the community with experience in primary health care

Context of assessment :

Competence should be demonstrated working individually, under supervision or as part of a primary health care team working with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander clients

Assessment should replicate workplace conditions as far as possible

Related units :

This unit may be assessed independently or in conjunction with other units with associated workplace application

Range Statement


The Range Statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Add any essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts.

Cultural respect 

This competency standard supports the recognition, protection and continued advancement of the inherent rights, cultures and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

It recognises that the improvement of the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must include attention to physical, spiritual, cultural, emotional and social well being, community capacity and governance

Its application must be culturally sensitive and supportive of traditional healing and health, knowledge and practices

Community control 

Community participation and control in decision-making is essential to all aspects of health work, and the role of the health worker is to support the community in this process


Supervision must be conducted in accordance with prevailing state/territory and organisation legislative and regulatory requirements

References to supervision may include either direct or indirect supervision of work by more experienced workers, supervisors, managers or other health professionals

A person at this level should only  be required to make decisions about clients within the organisation's standard treatment protocols and associated guidelines

Legislative requirements 

Federal, state or territory legislation may impact on workers' practices and responsibilities. Implementation of the competency standards should reflect the legislative framework in which a health worker operates. It is recognised that this may sometimes reduce the application of the Range of Variables in practice. However, assessment in the workplace or through simulation should address all essential skills and knowledge across the Range of Variables

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers may be required to operate in situations that do not constitute 'usual practice' due to lack of resources, remote locations and community needs. As a result, they may need to possess more competencies than described by 'usual practice circumstances'

Under all circumstances, the employer must enable the worker to function within the prevailing legislative framework

'socio -emotional' history may include :

  • Client's personal situation, including:
  • living conditions (including physical, social, environmental, political, spiritual/cultural, mental aspects)
  • any health, legal, family and/or lifestyle issues
  • financial and employment status
  • relationships and family of origin
  • critical events/ incidents
  • AOD use, smoking
  • hallucination, paranoia, delusional thinking
  • Nature and history of any presenting problem(s) (character, severity and duration of symptoms)
  • Client concerns and beliefs regarding their problems
  • Past medical history
  • Medicines being taken
  • Allergies
  • Diet history to determine food and drink intake

Critical incidents may include :

  • Loss, grief, trauma and bereavement
  • Unfinished business (dislocation, identity)
  • All forms of abuse
  • Funerals/burials
  • Crisis

Related health care providers may include :

  • Personnel internal to the service provider
  • External health care providers
  • Other service providers

Consultation with significant others may include :

  • Members of the client's family
  • Carer(s)
  • Community representatives
  • Other health professionals
  • Representatives from other organisations working with the community, the client and/or their family

Available documentation may include :

  • Medical records
  • Reports from referral, allied professionals and/or specialists

Signs of emotional disturbance may include :

  • Physical indicators of stress, distress or depression
  • Unusual behaviour
  • Body language
  • Signs of incoherent thinking

Issues of concern may include :

  • Issues, situation or 'worries' of concern to the client or significant others
  • Uncomfortable, stressful or uncontrollable moods and/or feelings
  • Violent, threatening or otherwise unacceptable behaviour

Serious or potentially serious issues for referral may include :

  • Suicide risk
  • Symptoms of chronic depression
  • Acutely disturbed clients

Referral services may include :

  • Counselling
  • AOD misuse support
  • Mental health support
  • Child abuse/sexual assault

Issues requiring mandatory notification may include :

  • Protection of children and others identified to be at risk
  • Issues defined by jurisdictional legislation and/or regulatory requirements
  • Issues specifically identified by the community or organisation policies

Unit Sector(s)

Not Applicable

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