Are you interested in using your consumer experience and knowledge to help inform healthcare decisions, activities and planning?
This guide provides information to help you connect with government and health services to improve healthcare in Victoria.
We've developed this guide as part of our commitment to ensuring consumers and community stakeholders have an equal voice in improving quality and safety.
We’ve identified three general stages for consumer participation:
Planning for the type of consumer partnership that suits you is the first step, and can include:
- figuring out what you want
- contacting Victoria’s peak body for health consumers, the Health Issues Centre (HIC)
- investigating available roles.
To figure out what works for you, ask yourself:
- Are you interested in short-term or long-term projects?
- What is most important to you?
- Do you want to get involved locally (where you live) or with a statewide organisation?
- Do you want to focus on a particular health issue?
Use the HIC’s self-assessment tool to get a better understanding of what you want to gain from becoming a consumer representative.
Once you’ve decided what type of consumer role you’re interested in get in touch with a consumer organisation. In Victoria, the HIC help to connect consumers and organisations and offer training support and networking. You can:
- Register your interest with the Health Issues Centre
- Download their overview of the consumer representative role
- Download Health Consumers Queensland overview of the consumer representative role
There are different ways your input will be valued
SCV and other government agencies have guidelines in place that encourage public organisations to pay consumer representatives for their time. Read our guide to consumer remuneration or the whole-of-government guidelines
Formal activities often pay sitting fees to participants. Consumers should always check if these payments are considered ‘income’, and consider the impact this may have on Centrelink or similar payments they might receive.
For more information about payment for costs associated with your participation, visit the Health Issues Centre consumer page.
Find a role that suits you
Identifying a suitable role may involve:
- finding, applying for and accepting a role
- doing paperwork related to the role, such as police checks
- getting familiar with orientation materials.
Recruitment processes vary between organisations
For example, government roles are more likely to have formal recruitment processes, including police checks, interviews and reference checks.
So, you've been offered a role...
The organisation you have partnered with should provide you with an orientation pack. This might include things like:
- how and when you will be paid (as an employee or external contractor)
- contact information for the organisation and committee members
- background information on the group you are joining
- information on meeting locations and security access
- confidentiality information
- conflict of interest forms.
At the end of this stage you should have enough information to clearly understand what, why and how you will be partnering with your chosen organisation.
Now that you're an active consumer representative, you may want to consider:
- learning more about consumer representation
- mentoring and networking with other consumers
- evaluating and reflecting on progress towards your goals.
Learn the language
Training is available
The organisation you partner with should encourage and support you to undergo training and professional development
See Health Issues Centre training options.
Connect with other consumers
As a consumer representative, it is not unusual to be the only person on a group or committee who doesn’t have a medical background. Some consumers can find this a bit isolating, so we recommend asking your partner organisation to connect you with other consumers who they may be working with.
Or check out the Health Issues Centre's Consumers Connect page.
Do you have feedback about this guide?
This guide is under development. If you have any feedback, please get in touch.
Last updated 10 Jan 2019
Last updated 10 Jan 2019
Page last updated: 28 Feb 2020