eNews from Health Consumers Queensland


20 December 21

In this issue:


A holiday message to our wonderful health consumers, carers and health staff across Queensland

If we have learnt anything during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that we don’t know exactly what the future may hold. 
Regardless of what unfolds, what we can and have been doing, is working to ensure the health system and consumers are prepared for any eventuality.
Clear and tailored communications are at the heart of the effectiveness of such an approach.

In October, in response to your concerns that Queenslanders were not being informed and empowered to prepare for living with COVID-19 once our border opened in December, Health Consumers Queensland led the way in calling for a new approach to public messaging and health literacy based on natural disaster / storm preparedness for Queensland Health to adopt and implement.
I am delighted to share that in response, health consumers and Health Consumers Queensland were invited by Queensland Health to genuinely co-design communications messages and tools.  We have also had unparalleled access to join decision-makers around the table to share what we have heard about what is important to Queenslanders about COVID-19 care and ongoing health care during community transmission and, crucially, co-design these models of care.

I would like to thank our incredible and diverse network of consumers for continuing to answer the call (sometimes at very short notice) to share your experiences and insights to improve health care for yourselves and your communities.
As we have awaited the imminent release by Queensland Health of the models of COVID-19 positive care and much needed COVID-19 planning tools for Queenslanders over the last few weeks, the new variant, Omicron, has emerged.
With cases popping up across Queensland and numbers doubling every two days, it is vital individuals and families are given these tools now, to get COVID-19 ready - in particular - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers, culturally and linguistically diverse consumers and people living in rural and remote areas. We will circulate these to our network as soon as they are released. 
2021 has been a huge year. You can see below the incredible amount of engagement that our small but passionate team of staff have facilitated.

Looking back over 2021

Early next year, we will be undertaking a reflection of our strategic direction to ensure we are on track and fulfilling our role as Queensland’s peak health consumer organisation for amplifying and activating the voice of consumers in health.  I’d like to thank everyone who has played a part in supporting our organisation’s ability to be at the table and supporting consumers: Dr Erin Evans, our Board Chair and our Board; and my wonderful team.
I hope everyone reading this message will be able to take some time out this holiday season to restore and re-charge. Our team will be doing the same and our office will be closed from 5.00pm, Thursday 23 December 2021 until we re-open at 9.00am, Monday, 10 January 2022.
I thank all the health staff who have worked so hard this year to help keep everyone safe and who are now preparing to care for people in their homes and in health care settings as cases increase.
During the Christmas break I will continue to support amplifying the consumer voice in the pandemic response and preparedness tools for consumers by attending planning meetings, briefings and undertaking rapid consumer consultation as required.
Stay safe,
Melissa Fox
CEO, Heath Consumers Queensland

Kitchen table discussions, focus groups, co-design sessions and unique consultations in 2021

Anne Curtis, Engagement Consultant – Specific Projects leads our consulting work which includes Kitchen Table Discussions, focus groups and co-design sessions as well as consulting with prisoners in Queensland Correctional Centres on behalf of the Office for Prisoner Health and Wellbeing.

This year Anne, with the support of Kirra Wilson, Administration Assistant, has undertaken a significant number of projects on behalf of Queensland Health and other external clients. You can read how they consulted with more than 1000 consumers across their many and very diverse projects by clicking on the link below.
Celebrating and acknowledging the power of consumer voices

A big welcome to new HCQ Board members

HCQ is delighted to introduce three new members of our Board: Robbie Sinclair, Carmel Macmillan and John Anderson.
John, Carmel and Robbie were officially welcomed by HCQ’s Board Chair, Dr Erin Evans, at our AGM on 17 November 2021.
John D Anderson
John is a resolute and resilient First Nations Elder belonging to Nywaigi people from around Ingham, and Mamu people near Innisfail in the Wet Tropics of North Queensland, Australia.  John also has connections with the Bidjara, Kara Kara and Karingbul peoples in the Barcaldine to Springsure sandstone and desert uplands region of Central Queensland. Read more

Carmel Macmillan
Carmel is an experienced Board, Committee Chair and Non-Executive director, with extensive expertise in marketing, customer experience, and business transformation. She is a Fellow of the AICD and Governance Institute of Australia and currently holds Board positions with Women on Boards and MS Queensland. Read more 

Robbie Sinclair
Director and Company Secretary
Board members supporting organisations in the advocacy and community partnering sector need to bring a diverse set of skills to the task as well as the passion and energy to contribute.

Robbie is a strategic and pragmatic Audit Risk and Governance focused NED Director and commercial practitioner with success in establishing, leading and influencing sustainable technology, cyber and physical security, risk management and audit functions and cultures in highly complex, highly scrutinized and dynamic environments. Read more

Health Consumers Queensland’s Annual Report 2020-21 is out now

We are delighted to share Health Consumers Queensland's Annual Report for 2020-2021 with you all.
Our report describes the depth and breadth of our activities and impact throughout an extraordinary year. It is also a testament to the power and potential of genuine partnership and the vision and commitment of so many consumers and carers, health staff and NGOs to sustain the health consumer voice at the centre of Queensland's COVID-19 response and regular healthcare.
Open HCQ's Annual Report 2020-21

Are you ready for COVID-19?

More than 350 consumers, carers and health staff have already attended the first two episodes in HCQ’s current online COVID-19 Preparation webcast series about helping Queenslanders prepare for living alongside the virus and its variants as well as work out the information and supports you need for your particular circumstances and wherever you live.
If you missed Episode 1: COVID-19 is coming to Queensland – are you ready with Dr Alex Markwell, Senior Staff Specialist at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital Emergency and Trauma Centre and Episode 2: Challenges and lessons of COVID-19 from a unique perspective with Dr Krispin Hajkowicz, one of Australia’s leading infectious diseases experts and his 13 year old son, Tommy, you can watch them again here.
Watch Episode 1 
Watch Episode 2 
A further 220 people have registered for this week’s webcast: Preparing rural and remote communities.

Please join us tomorrow, Tuesday 21 December at 3.15-4.00pm when we’ll be discussing how rural and remote communities can prepare for COVID-19 outbreaks with Statewide Rural and Remote Clinical Network Co-Chairs, Dr Konrad Kangru and Dr Emily Moody.
Register for Preparing Rural and Remote Communities for COVID-19

Overwhelming response to HCQ’s latest First Nations COVID-19 Engagement Project

HCQ’s Project Consultant, Lynda Maybanks, a proud Yugara woman from the Ipswich and Lockyer Valley regions with connections to Yugembeh (Ngarang-wal and Mullunjali) and Bunjalung nation, has been overwhelmed with 25 expressions of interest from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers and carers to join HCQ’s new project reference group.
Ten people were able to be accepted on to the group in order to keep discussions practical and ensure everyone gets the chance to speak. We thank everyone for taking the time and effort to express your interest and your commitment.
Lynda wants to ensure all mob have input no matter how fast the Queensland Health turn around time. She invited anyone who was unsuccessful in joining the project reference group to join a broader ‘rapid response’ community of interest who are prepared to be called upon to provide feedback on concepts, ideas and resources in development at short notice.
Lynda held the first online introduction meetings for consumers across both groups in late November to update everyone on the work that is happening and yarn about how they will work together over the coming weeks. Consumers have already provided rapid feedback on two key projects, including a COVID-19 family plan.

COVID-19 rapid response work

Over the past 6-8 weeks, much work has been happening in the health system to refine plans for the management of COVID-19 in Queensland.  HCQ's CEO, Melissa Fox has been involved in a number of these working groups and meetings. These have focused on:
  • COVID-19 models of care
  • Management of COVID-well health consumers
  • Communications.
HCQ has involved consumers in as many of these as has been possible, given how fast moving the work has been to date, including:
Reviewing the triage questions that consumers will be asked if they get COVID-19. Two focus groups of diverse consumers were involved in this process.
  • On Friday, 19 November 2021, ten consumers and carers joined a focus group hosted by HCQ to review the Queensland Health virtual care (adult and paediatric) COVID-19 positive survey questionnaire.
  • On Wednesday, 24 November 2021, six consumers (from the original group of ten) joined a focus group, to provide feedback on the summary to date, and provide feedback on the proposed model of care being developed in the last few days.
The consumers said that these conversations need to be compassionate and caring, considering more than just the person’s clinical needs and indicators (to consider social and emotional supports as well) and need to consider the whole-of-person and whole-of-household perspective.
Consumers also said that care needs to be easy to access, welcoming, meet the needs of the person and their family (including a person’s specific needs around disability care, decision-making if the person has an intellectual disability, translation services, cultural needs, emotional and mental health wellbeing). 
Reviewing a draft script that staff would use when they phone people with the news they are COVID-19 positive.  A focus group of seven diverse consumers was held with staff responsible for writing this script.

The consumers came from a range of backgrounds including three people who identify as First Nations and who live in the Northern Peninsula Area (tip of Cape York), culturally and linguistically diverse communities, rural communities, people living with a disability, young people and older people.

Thank you Adele, Lila and Tanya

Three of the inaugural members of HCQ’s Consumer Advisory Group (CAG) are stepping down this month at the end of their extended two year terms.
We sincerely thank Adele Witte, Lila Pratap and Tanya Kretschmann for your time, dedication and valuable contributions towards ensuring that Health Consumers Queensland remains a consumer-driven and led organisation.

Lila and Adele joined HCQ’s CAG as emerging consumers with one or two years’ partnering experience and Tanya was already an experienced consumer. All have played invaluable roles in supporting and mentoring fellow CAG members, especially the new members who joined this year, and continue to represent consumers on strategic, high-level committees and working groups across health and across the State.
We’d also like to thank all our current CAG members for your insights and continued commitment to Health Consumers Queensland’s work throughout this year in particular around the COVID-19 response, our communications, our annual forum, and our training and consumer recruitment programs. You told us you feel very comfortable with the space our CAG has created and you can speak authentically.
We very much look forward to working together in 2022.

If you are interested in finding out more about joining our Consumer Advisory Group, HCQ will be inviting expressions of interest from consumers on our network later in January 2022.

HCQ thanks Dr Alex Markwell, a champion of consumer and clinician partnerships

Outgoing Queensland Clinical Senate Chair, Dr Alex Markwell has been a “true champion” of consumer and clinician partnerships, according to Health Consumers Queensland’s Chair, Erin Evans who has sat on the Queensland Clinical Senate Executive with her for three years.
In 2021 alone, many of you will have shared your views and experiences with Alex and other clinicians, and/or seen her in action as a panellist on Sharing Power: Co-design with consumers for impact and equity, our virtual annual forum delivered by HCQ TV, or just a few weeks ago when she co-presented the first episode of our current webinar series on getting ready for COVID-19.
HCQ CEO, Melisa Fox said, “Alex has a genuine concern for the safety of health professionals and everyday Queenslanders and has made sure we’ve had consumers at every table possible with clinicians. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with Alex and we look forward to working with incoming Chair, Dr Tanya Kelly to continue to deepen those partnerships between clinicians and consumers in the years ahead.”
Click below to read Alex’s reflections on working with consumers and carers and the importance she places on developing and maintaining consumer/clinician relationships in this special interview published in our latest Annual Report.
Dr Alex Markwell

Celebrating new consumer partnerships

Congratulations to all the consumers and carers from HCQ's network who have been appointed to consumer partnership roles on committees and focus groups with Queensland Health during December 2021.
One new consumer representative has been appointed to the System Information Communication Technologies Advisory Committee (SICTAC) Tier 2 committee to support and oversee the co-design of the new digital governance of Queensland Health Investment in Information Communication Technology (ICT) and to contribute to the effective assurance of Queensland Health’s ICT capabilities.
Another consumer is joining the Tier 3 Healthcare Safety and Quality Indicator Sub-committee.
Find out more about Queensland Health’s Tier 2 and Tier 3 Committees here
Eleven consumers are sitting across six Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) sub-committees and one consumer has sat on the recruitment panel for the VAD Senior Medical Officer (SMO) role to assist with the implementation of polices and decision-making about voluntary and assisted dying in Queensland.
Finally, two consumers are joining the General Medicine Clinical Network Steering Committee.  
Over 50 consumers and carers applied for these impactful, statewide, 12 month+ roles. We thank you all for the time and effort you put into each application. There are many reasons why particular consumers or carers are selected for roles and we encourage you to continue applying and develop your knowledge and skills by attending one of our free consumer partnership training events.

Consumers and health staff learn from the best at our consumer partnerships training workshops

Consumers and carers and Queensland Health staff who recently attended our last Fundamentals of Consumer Partnerships training workshops have got a head start on building powerful and effective health consumer partnerships in the year ahead thanks to expert advice and strategies from consumer trailblazers and legends, Phil Carswell and Helen Mees, who co-presented with HCQ’s Engagement Advisor, Reema Naresh.
Phil shared his insights into how it works day by day and meeting by meeting with consumers. He also passed on his tips and tricks for how to make your voice heard and how to find support for yourself as you navigate this role. He wants consumers to know that you have power as well and to have the confidence to use your power judiciously and strategically.
Helen, who is renowned for speaking out about the importance of the health and wellbeing of the health workforce and including consumers in decisions that affect them, ensured participants came out of the workshop with the confidence and essential skills to improve your consumer engagement.
We have just released new dates for Fundamentals of Consumer Partnerships training workshops for consumers and carers in 2022. 
Register for HCQ's Fundamentals of Consumer Partnerships training for consumers

HCQ gives evidence at Parliamentary Inquiry

HCQ's CEO, Melissa Fox went to Parliament House on Wednesday, 8 December 2021 to speak at the public hearing for the Parliamentary Inquiry by the Health and Environment Committee into the provision of primary, allied and private health care, aged care and NDIS services and its impact on the Queensland public health system. 
View the video and transcript
Find out more
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