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eAlert: Enabling vital partnerships to ensure the COVID-19 health response meets the needs of all Queenslanders

In this issue:

Groundbreaking appointment of consumer representatives to Queensland Health Tier 2 Committees

Health Consumers Queensland is delighted to announce that, for the first time in our public health system’s history, consumers are sitting across almost all the key governance committees in the Department of Health (known as Tier 2 System Advisory Committees).

Eight out of the nine committees have representation from consumers, clinicians and First Nations people as well as an organisational representative from Health Consumers Queensland. The System Management Advisory Committee is the only exception, with a decision by the Chairs to have clinicians and First Nations people on the Tier 2 committee, and consumers on their Tier 3 sub-committees. 

The Tier 2 Committees will help improve alliances between the Department of Health, Hospital and Health Services (where care is delivered), and the Queensland Ambulance Service. They report into the Queensland Health Executive Leadership Team with a connection to the Queensland Health Leadership Advisory Board; both of these two groups report into the Director-General of Health.

Up until now, consumers have only been represented on a few Committees at this level of the health system. This new systematised representation underlines Queensland Health’s commitment to and recognition of the value of consumer partnerships to the system and health outcomes for all Queenslanders. 

Melissa Fox, CEO of Health Consumers Queensland said, “I would like to congratulate and thank all the consumers who have been appointed to these Committees. As members of the Queensland Health Collaborative and experienced consumer representatives, their appointments are the culmination of collective work by Health Consumers Queensland, the Director General Dr John Wakefield, health consumers and Queensland Health to ensure meaningful and purposeful engagement is embedded at all levels of the public health system – from local/operational roles through to strategic and state- wide oversight.

The consumers’ perspectives and input will enable greater transparency, accountability and scrutiny to help improve efficiencies and make sure the right decisions are being made.”

The Tier 2 Committees are:
  • System Management Advisory Committee – setting the system up for maximum service value
  • Patient Safety and Quality Advisory Committee – minimising unwarranted variation in outcomes, maximising patient safety
  • Data and System Intelligence Advisory Committee – ensuring maximum system benefit from health and social care data
  • System Reform, Strategy and Policy Advisory Committee – coordination, oversight and reporting on system reform agenda
  • Strategic Workforce Advisory Committee – ensuring QH has the best talent, leadership and culture to deliver world class health services
  • Rural and Remote Advisory Committee – ensuring that all Queenslanders can access world class health services
  • Disaster Management Advisory Committee – statutory committee focused on ensuring world class planning and delivery of disaster and emergency response
  • First Nations Health Improvement Advisory Committee – ensuring QH drives measurable improvement in the health of First Nations Queenslanders.
The frequency of meetings between the committees varies; some of the consumer representatives will be involved in monthly meetings and some will be involved in quarterly meetings. Consumers will  be remunerated in line with Health Consumers Queensland’s  remuneration position statement. 

Briefings with consumers are currently taking place and one consumer is attending her first meeting today. At present, Health Consumers Queensland is helping to create processes to support consumers on the committees and build a cross-committee consumer network.

This week’s Consumer Conversation: Face masks – what else do consumers need to know?

Recently, the Chief Health Officer confirmed that Queenslanders should wear face masks when we can’t socially distance.  However, the wearing of face masks continues to be a topic of discussion and confusion.
Health Consumers Queensland’s COVID-19 Community of Interest were joined by Jordan Medlock from the Strategic Communications Branch’s Project Team at Queensland Health, to explore the issues which are causing concern and identify additional information which would enable consumers to make confident and informed choices about mask wearing as part of their personal and collective COVID-19 protection strategy.
The discussion ranged from consumers who are experiencing criticism from strangers for wearing masks, to an acknowledgment that masks are working well as a visual reminder to people to socially distance.
Consumers are looking to trusted leaders to set a good example in mask advice and etiquette. However, with some political leaders handling their masks incorrectly when addressing the media, consumers are turning to other trusted sources including Dr Norman Swan (from RN, Radio National) and QDN – Queenslanders with Disability Network.
Consumers also recognised that people are fatigued, tensions are running high and the messages are starting to wear thin. “The longer this goes on and on, the more the tension grows and the harder it is to maintain equanimity, calmness, objectivity and social responsibility.”
With these observations in mind, Jordan welcomed consumers’ suggestions to help Queensland Health’s messages about wearing a mask get through. Consumers felt the current QH mask information page for consumers was too text heavy and recommended the use of pictures, video and graphics to make it easier to understand, especially for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
You can read the full summary of this week’s Conversation in our latest Issues Paper. This paper is shared with Queensland Health.

Consumer Conversations are taking a break

Consumer Conversations will take a break during the school holidays and will be back at approximately 10am on Tuesday, 6 October 2020.

Thank you to all the wonderful consumers who attend these sessions every fortnight. Your commitment, feedback, insights and humour are both impactful and appreciated. Enjoy having your Tuesday mornings back for a few weeks!

Please register for the COVID-19 Community of Interest Group to receive your invitations to the conversations. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Interpreter services are now available for primary health telehealth appointments

Queenslanders from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds will welcome the news that interpreter services are now available via telehealth appointments throughout Australia. The service is free to both consumers and GPs and the costs are covered by local Primary Health Networks.

According to Anna Voloschenko, who chairs the Multicultural Advisory Committee at Metro South and is an experienced consumer and member of our consumer network, the service currently differs from state to state and across Queensland.  

Health consumers need to ask their GP for an interpreter when they are making the appointment and the GP surgery needs to organize the link up with the interpreter service and the telehealth technology.

Anna explained that it is still early days for the service and as more people request it, the benefits will be clearer to both consumers, health staff and interpreter services, and the pitfalls can be addressed.

To find out more please visit the TIS (Translating and Interpreting Service) National website information page

Thank you, Anna, for sharing this news with us all during Tuesday’s Consumer Conversation.

Meeting the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) consumers

Throughout the Consumer Conversations, CALD consumers and carers have consistently flagged their concerns about information and care meeting the needs of all our communities in Queensland. We have shared this information with key Queensland Health contacts both directly and via our issues papers.  

During the next series of Consumer Conversations on 6 October, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the clinical and communication needs of CALD communities to understand more about how the public health system can ensure that information and care is easy to understand, access and culturally appropriate, especially during the pandemic.

In order to make this engagement meaningful, we want to reach out to many more communities and community leaders and hear your views so we can amplify your voices. Please share this with your networks and invite them to join our COVID-19 Community of Interest so we can alert everyone to the planned date for this Conversation.

Sad news

We were saddened to hear of the death of Tim Mulherin, Chair of Mackay Hospital and Health Services Board and consumer champion, on 7 September 2020.

Tim was known for his community-mindedness and attended many community meetings with health consumers around the region that Mackay Hospital and Health Service covers. He will be missed. We extend our condolences to his family and all who knew him, especially all the staff and consumers at Mackay HHS.

Consumers welcome QDN/HCQ’s free COVID-19 webinars

Last week Health Consumers Queensland partnered with Queenslanders with Disability Network on a series of three free webinars for people with disability and supporters.

One hundred people attended the ‘COVID Conversations’ to find out up to date information on testing and wearing masks, getting essential services and support, and knowing your rights.

Panellists included Dr Jillann Farmer, Deputy Director-General, Clinical Excellence Queensland, Dr Ben Gauntlet, Australian Human Rights Commission and Kirsten Dean from Every Australian Counts. But it was Uli Kaplan, together with his supporter Kevin Stone, from VALID, whose story of life under lockdown in Victoria had the most impact on consumers with one attendee saying he was “totally blown away” and “grateful for Uli’s honest, sensible approach to what he needs to do to survive.”

We’ve watched a lot of ‘how to wear your mask’ videos in the past few weeks and QDN’s video during the first webinar was the best.

QDN is currently editing the recordings of the webinars and shareable content will be available in the coming weeks. The Network is also planning further webinars and we will keep you informed about the date.

RU OK Day 

“People are far too stressed, worried about themselves, the economy… Everyone has their own individual issues and problems.” 
“People are fatigued and the message is wearing thin.” “I just miss getting and giving hugs.”  “There is this whole disconnect now.”

RU OK Day is today and these were some of the comments we heard during the Consumer Conversation this week. We recognize how difficult it can feel amidst ongoing restrictions and uncertainty, particularly if you are choosing to limit your face-to-face social interactions.

Some consumer representatives are sitting on a large number of committees but regardless of the number, if you are experiencing any challenge or overwhelm with your consumer representative work, please reach out to our team.   

You can also read over this list of recommendations drawn up by experienced consumers in Queensland to actively manage your involvement in engagement work. These were drawn up in April specifically for COVID related engagement work but are relevant to any health engagement activity you are currently undertaking.  

For consumers

  • Be clear with yourself about why you are getting involved in activities as a whole and then you can prioritise which requests you can take on.
  •  Before agreeing to a request or invitation, ask yourself if this particular project aligns with your values.
  • You don't have to attend every session or meeting. Pace yourselves and choose which sessions work for you.
  • Ask staff to expand their networks and approach new consumers with different perspectives rather than relying on a handful of people.
  • When requests are sent with tight time-frames, try to exercise discipline in when and how you work on them.
  • Prioritise your self-care and family time. Fit in your consumer work according to your capacity.

For staff

  • Well-managed, pre-existing engagement partnerships and relationships are paying off now in terms of staff and consumers enjoying good communication and being able to set boundaries even when responses are urgent and the pressure is on.
  • Be aware how much information you are sending out to consumers and asking them to read or respond to either before or after meetings.
  • Try to send information out in a timely way and set reasonable timeframes for consumer input.
  • Consider who else you can access to provide a consumer voice rather than always going back to the same people.
  • Remunerate consumers appropriately for their work.
  • Remember that consumers are on a health journey and need to care for their health and wellbeing.
Training, information and resources

This week's Engagement Snack Pack Takeaway

We wrapped up the Engagement Snack Pack with a bonus session to answer the burning questions we heard during the series. Many of the questions centred around how to reach a broader range of consumers in engagement activities. 
  • Think about reaching beyond your office and your working hours.
  • Making connections with community groups or services that harder-to-reach groups already access can make a real difference.
  • Even holding your activity in a friendlier venue, such as a local library, can make your engagement more accessible for people who find towering office blocks or hospitals intimidating or even frightening.

If you spend time thinking about the people you are trying to reach and what their lives might look like, you will come up with a variety of alternatives that won't break your budget, and will welcome a wider range of people into your engagement activity. 

We're planning another online Queensland Health staff training series starting in October so please watch this space!

Accessing health care in Queensland for border zone residents

On 4 September 2020, the Chief Health Issue issued a new Border Restrictions Direction No. 13 which includes information for residents of the border zone in NSW about accessing essential health care in Queensland.

Find out more about entering Queensland for essential health care and download the Approved Form for essential health care appointments.

The approved form is currently not mandatory for health care providers to use but may become so in due course.

Click on the button below to read the Direction in full.

Border Restrictions Direction No. 13

Interested in Kitchen Table Discussions? 

"Your guidance made the experience an absolute pleasure and very easy to arrange and facilitate. My session was filled with relevant and interesting stories, first hand information and a really strong sense of mutual trust and support." (Kitchen table discussion host)

Even in these challenging times, consumers and carers can still lead consultation in their own communities through kitchen table discussions. Hosts can lead their sessions in-person by observing COVID-19 guidelines or they can now host them online via Zoom.

Health Consumers Queensland is always looking for new hosts. If you're a consumer and/or carer and you would like to find out more about kitchen table discussions and hosting sessions, join a one hour zoom session on Friday, 11th September from 10am to 11am.

For more information and to book into the session please email:
Register for Last Aid training

Mind the Gap: Bridging the Disability Digital Divide

To celebrate Disability Action Week, Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN) and CSIA (Community Services Industry Alliance) invite you to a digital forum on digital access – Mind the Gap: Bridging the Disability Digital Divide.

Day: Friday 18 September

Time: 10am – 12noon

Link To register

With an exciting program of speakers and discussions, this timely event is for everyone interested in how we can work together to champion online access and find innovative ways to close the digital divide for people with disability across all areas of your lives.

COVID-19 has taught us that there are some incredible advances in accessing services digitally, and other examples of where people with disability are being left behind. We aim to examine the issues and solutions to digital access, affordability, and skills around navigating websites, online content, devices, data usage and digital literacy.

Open the program
Register for Mind the Gap
We invite you to join our network of Queensland consumers, carers and staff of health organisations.

Our shared focus is creating strong and sustainable consumer partnerships in Queensland. By joining you will become a part of a network of skilled, connected people working together to make the health system the best it can be.
Join the Health Consumers Queensland statewide network

VOICeD - Co-design a new diabetes, renal and cardiac telehealth service, Cairns

Applications close: Midday Wednesday 16 September 2020

Queensland Health is seeking far north Queensland people with a combination of diabetes, cardiac and kidney disease to participate in the co- design of a new multi-specialist service model, the Virtual Outpatient Integration for Chronic Disease (VOICeD)clinic. 

The VOICeD clinic will allow people to have one telehealth appointment to see their diabetes, renal and cardiac specialists at once. Consumers taking part in these workshops will be helping to create a service that best meets the needs of patients in far north Queensland like themselves.

Participants are asked to attend two workshops one week apart, two to three hours each in late September. The first workshop will be held face to face at the Cairns Hospital, the second via video conference.

This opportunity would suit people:

  • With diabetes and cardiac and renal conditions that have resulted from diabetes
  • From a variety of ages and cultural backgrounds
  • Experience with accessing care face-to-face and having one or more previous appointments by telehealth (phone or internet)

Participants will be remunerated for their time attending the workshop in line with Health Consumers Queensland’s remuneration position statement.

Find out more and apply via the link below. 


Find out more and apply

Other opportunities for consumers and carers

As a peer based organisation Queensland Positive People (QPP) recognises the centrality of the positive voice and values the importance of the lived experience of HIV.  All that we do at QPP is underpinned by the principles of Meaningful Involvement of People with HIV (MIPA).

The Community Advisory Group (CAG) seeks to engage with the diverse community of people with HIV across Queensland and to provide a platform through which individual and collective voices can be heard. The CAG will assist QPP to identify current and emerging community needs and will assist QPP to establish strategic priorities in service delivery, advocacy and health education and information.

Find out more and apply

Be a consumer representative with RECOVER Injury Research Centre

RECOVER Injury Research Centre is committed to genuine consumer and community involvement in all stages of our research. We want our consumers to be more than just our research participants. Learn more or register to become a consumer representative at

RECOVER is a leading research centre based at The University of Queensland. The mission of RECOVER is to optimise the physical, psychological, communication, social and vocational recovery of people following injury, especially when caused by road traffic crashes. 

Including consumers in service planning and design

QCOSS is Queensland’s peak body for the social service sector. Its vision is to achieve equality, opportunity and wellbeing for every person, in every community.

QCOSS is seeking feedback from consumers who have accessed community service organisations across Queensland. 

If you would like to contribute to a project that aims to support community organisations to include consumers in service planning and design, then we would love to hear from you.  

You can complete the survey below or contact QCOSS at or call 3004 6900.
QCOSS survey

Take part in a survey about 'de-prescibing' for older Australians and people with a life-limiting illness

The older population in Australia is rising and so are life-limiting illnesses such as cancer and dementia, and consequently the use of medication.

However, evidence suggest that this vulnerable group of patients continue to receive medications that are considered inappropriate. Therefore, a potential approach to minimise the risks associated with medications and consequently improve their quality of life is 'deprescribing'.

Implementation in clinical practice is challenging. Hence, understanding the attitudes and beliefs of patients, carers and health care professionals, who are part of the process, could assist in developing effective deprescribing strategies. Therefore, this survey aims to understand your attitude and beliefs towards deprescribing in older patients with life-limiting illness and limited life expectancy.
Find out more
Open survey
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