Objectives: This article reviews the changing Aboriginal mental health service delivery model of Top End Mental Health Services, and highlights the importance of Aboriginal mental health workers in improving communication with Aboriginal patients. The Australian Integrated Mental Health Initiative Northern Territory Indigenous stream (AIMHI NT) is introduced.

Method: Baseline measures of AIMHI NT in 2003, and findings from two clinical file audits (1996 and 2001) at Royal Darwin Hospital inpatient unit are presented. The files were audited for a range of assessment and treatment interventions.

Results: The audits reveal significant improvements in Aboriginal inpatient care between 1995 and 2001.

Conclusion: Aboriginal mental health workers provide essential services as cross-cultural brokers in the setting of Aboriginal mental illness. The improvements in care found in this file audit coincide with the commencement of employment of Aboriginal mental health workers in the inpatient unit. The AIMHI consultation reveals broad support for employment of more Aboriginal mental health workers in the Top End.