eNews from Health Consumers Queensland
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eNews April 2018

In this issue:

From the Chair

The new year began in earnest with renewed energy and enthusiasm among the Health Consumers Queensland board of directors.  We welcomed new directors – Gabrielle Quillam and Rachelle Foreman.
At our first meeting of the year held last month, our Board took the opportunity to re-examine our strategic plan for the future.  This year Health Consumers Queensland celebrates 10 years of helping Queenslanders improve our health system.  As a reliable and trusted source of strategic advice and consumer engagement training, we continue to support a number of service providers and consumer representatives throughout the state to be active participants in the co-design of a better health system.  And we now have a number of champions who can attest to the benefits of working with Health Consumers Queensland and consumers more broadly.
As part of our commitment to revisiting and renewing our strategic direction, we are looking five years into the future and exploring what we want to achieve in this time frame.  We see a number of challenges ahead, not least those being brought about by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and how it will interface with the health system now and into the future.  We are holding a Networking session on this topic at the offices of Queenslanders with Disability Network.  The topic is also being explored by our Queensland Health Consumer Collaborative, our strategic high-level joint initiative between Health Consumers Queensland and Queensland Health.
The Collaborative met for its first meeting of 2018 in February, where we received an update about value-based healthcare and how we can continue to be actively involved in ensuring that healthcare is based on the needs and wants of the consumer.
All of this work forms part of a larger consultation on our future strategic direction which will be undertaken in the coming months, when we will invite constructive feedback from our peers and associated consumers with an interest in shaping the future of health consumer collaboration.
The Queensland Clinical Senate provides leadership and advice on strategic statewide clinical service delivery issues, and is currently refreshing its membership.  In recognising the important role consumers and carers have in the design and delivery of health services, membership of the Senate currently includes three consumer representatives from Health Consumers Queensland.  We thank Moya Sandow for representing rural consumers on the Clinical Senate for the last three years.  We have advertised for expressions of interest from consumers and carers who are interested in joining the Senate.  In particular we have been encouraging people living in rural or remote locations to apply.  Members must attend three, 1.5 day meetings per year in Brisbane.  Information on how to submit your application to us by 4.00pm Friday 20th April is available here.
The Health Consumers Queensland board is seeking two additional Directors, who can contribute to guide the strategic direction of our organisation.  If you would like more information about this opportunity please email for more information.
As always, I wish to convey my thanks to my fellow Directors, and to CEO Melissa Fox and her team, for all the work that continues to be done each and every day in ensuring that the voice of the health consumer is amplified as we work towards creating a better health system for all.

Mark Tucker-Evans

From the CEO

Whilst our health system exists to care for people and “do no harm”, we know that this is not always the case.  In these instances, two of which I detail below, as an organisation we have a responsibility to speak out and encourage the system to work with consumers to uncover the extent of harms and co-design solutions.

In recent weeks the issue of young people’s mental health and the challenges they experience accessing suitable services has come under a spotlight again.  Health Consumers Queensland issued a media release last month reaffirming our commitment to supporting young people and their parents and carers to be part of the process to improve access to mental health services for young Queenslanders.  When families are forced to go public with their very personal struggles around mental health issues and the fact that they feel they are not being listened to or supported, then we know that the system needs to be addressed and something needs to change.  Our work in the youth mental health service system has proven beyond a doubt that partnership and the inclusion of young people, carers and families can make a difference.  Together we will keep pushing for change and the development of better services so that families can access the care that they need, when they need it.  You can read our media statement in full here and learn about opportunities to be involved here

We have also continued to speak up for Queensland women whose lives have been deeply affected by complications from transvaginal mesh.  Last month finally saw the thrice-delayed release of the Senate inquiry report.  The report has validated their experiences, as a first step toward justice and accountability.  We joined the peak state/territory consumer organisations in endorsing the recommendations of the Senate report and calling for a number of actions from the Federal and State/Territory Governments.  We will continue to encourage Federal and State health authorities to work in an open, coordinated and transparent way with mesh-affected women to co-design effective, lifetime pathways for care.  You can read more about the issue and read our joint media statement here

Lastly, we are busy scoping out a new contract between Health Consumers Queensland and the Department of Health as we remain committed to continuing our work with the department and to carry on the good work being done in this space.

Our little team here at Health Consumers Queensland continues to deliver big outcomes right across the State. Consumer representative requests continue to come in thick and fast and our upcoming annual forum is really starting to take shape.  We are excited to welcome Michael Taylor as our new Event Assistant to lend a hand and bring some extra energy and momentum to our two-day forum in June.  Find out more about our forum here

We are looking for a new staff member with high level engagement skills.
We are currently recruiting for a new full time Senior Engagement Advisor who will build capacity in consumer and community engagement and strengthen relationships with health organisations requiring strategy development.  We need them to have:
  • Excellent consumer and community engagement skills and/or community development experience, ideally with a lived experience of consumer advocacy.
  • The ability to consult and develop consumer and community engagement frameworks and strategies for health organisations.
  • The ability to deliver presentations, workshops and training (including assessments) as required.
  • High level research and writing skills, including submissions and policy development.
For further information and a Position Description, please go to our staff vacancies page or our Ethical Jobs advertisement.
Applications including a resume and a statement addressing the Key Skills outlined in the position description should be submitted by 5pm on Thursday 26 April to: using the subject line: Senior Engagement Advisor application. 

Melissa Fox

Celebrate wellbeing. Everybody wins.

Health Consumers Queensland was proud to support this year’s Queensland Women’s Week, with the theme of ‘Celebrate wellbeing. Everybody wins.’  

Staff were joined by some of our health consumers at the Queensland Health Aspiring Women Leaders Forum held earlier this month.  Every day at Health Consumers Queensland we work with women across the state – consumers, carers and health professionals – who are partnering together, to lead and drive better health outcomes for Queenslanders.  

On International Women’s Day – and every day – we see you, we are inspired by you, we thank you and we will continue to support you.

2018 Annual Forum: our newest team member

We are so excited to welcome Michael Taylor to the Health Consumers Queensland team as our Event Assistant.

Michael has previously worked with Metro North Hospital and Health Service at the Caboolture Hospital in Service Improvement and has extensive experience with Standard 2, Partnering with Consumers, as well as 13 years’ experience in events, marketing and publishing.

Michael is responsible for supporting and coordinating the 2018 Annual Forum.  This will include; registrations for staff and consumers to attend the Annual Forum, liaising with stakeholders, The Inaugural Consumer Awards, Call for Abstracts, with the overall aim of supporting the team run a smooth and successful Annual Forum.  If you wish to contact Michael please email or call 07 3012 9090.

We asked Michael five questions to tell us a little bit about himself.
Describe yourself in five words
Outgoing, loyal, fun, determined, and understanding

What are you excited about doing as part of your new role with HCQ?
After working with Metro North HHS for the past year in Service Improvement, specialising in events, consumer engagement and workforce management, I’m excited to utilise my background in events at HCQ.  Through the QLD Health relationships I’ve developed, I have already been fed some fantastic information around the important role HCQ has to support consumers engaging with QLD Health.  I’ve also heard how valuable the information presented at the Annual Forum is, therefore I’m excited to be part of bringing the forum together.

Who or what inspires you?
I have so many friends who have families and also run successful small businesses, so I would say as a group these people continually inspire me.  It’s easy to think your current workload or life pressures are too much, however I think of my friends who have staff to look after and also have a family to go home to as well.  They all continue to manage these work and life pressures so perfectly which continues to inspire me to do better.  Specifically, I would say Suzanne Michaels who is a Change Manager for Metro North.  The respect she has within QLD Health and Metro North from a consumer and community engagement perspective is admirable.  Her work and home life achievements are incredible and it’s hard to fault her in both of these areas.

What’s the last book you read or show you watched?
Admittedly, I like to indulge in trashy TV.  I’m currently obsessed with Married at First Sight and The Real Housewives of {everywhere}.  Literally.  Melbourne, Beverley Hills, Patomic, Sydney, Atlanta, The OC, New York… Keep them coming globally I say!

Living or dead, name five people you would invite over for a dinner party.
I love throwing dinner parties so I’m excited to answer this question.  I never throw a dinner party or event without inviting my beautiful sister.  She is the life to any dinner party and we are extremely close.  Then it would be Adele, Gigi Hadid, Gina Liano and my partner as I wouldn’t want him to miss out on meeting people we wouldn’t normally get the chance to.

Griffith Unversity's Health Consumers Queensland Impact Evaluation Project

Are you a consumer or carer?

Would you like to participate in an online survey for the Health Consumers Queensland Impact Evaluation Project?

Researchers at Griffith University are seeking consumers and carers who are currently or have partnered in consumer and community engagement processes within Hospital and Health Services, Department of Health Divisions, Non-Government Organisations, Private Hospitals or Primary Health Networks in Queensland (e.g.: Reference group, committee, focus group, etc.) to volunteer to complete two brief online surveys (over a one year period) which will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete.  The information that you provide will help to inform Health Consumers Queensland about the effectiveness of the work they are doing.
You do not have to complete this survey, however, if you would like to help, please read through the information sheet which explains more about the research project.  If after reading through this information you agree to participate, please click on the organisation you work with and this will take you to the survey.  Completing and submitting this survey will be taken as your informed consent to participate in this project.  Surveys will need to be completed by the end of April 2018.
Click on the link below to your organisation’s survey:   
Please note that Griffith University researchers have received ethics approval to undertake this research.  If you would like any additional information about this research, please contact Dr Maddy Slattery on 3382 1123 or  If you have any concerns about the way the research is conducted, please contact the Griffith University Human Research Ethics Committee.

Staff and consumer training update

Health Consumers Queensland’s Jo Smethurst has been on the road again providing consumer training opportunities for some of our more remote health services.  Jo flew to Cooktown last month to provide a consumer training workshop for the members of the Consumer Advisory Group of the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service.  Seven consumers attended this training along with three staff members.  The consumers came from far and wide, from Umagico, Bamaga, Thursday Island, Mer Island, Hopevale and Cooktown, with the meetings to be held in different locations each time – the next will be in Weipa.


Photo caption: Health Consumers Queensland’s Jo Smethurst (far left) with the Consumer Advisory Council of the Torres and Cape HHS and HHS staff in Cooktown recently.

The Consumer Advisory Group has met only for the third time but have already started to make a difference.  One of the key achievements is that work has already progressed on travel, which is a big barrier to accessing care and returning home afterwards.  Jo says the group were “dynamic and it was a privilege to meet with them again after their inaugural meeting in Cairns last year.  The staff of the HHS supporting this group are equally as dynamic, committed and passionate and I’m looking forward to seeing what else this group achieves.”

Photos: Cooktown Airport, Jo’s transport up north and the atmospheric Cooktown

Jo also provided training for staff from across the Cairns and Hinterland HHS and Torres and Cape HHS who are working on a joint eHealth project.  Other staff from across the two HHSs also attended, including from Mental Health and one staff member from Thursday Island making up the 12-strong group.

HCQ Department of Health staff training workshops

Health Consumers Queensland holds monthly training sessions on the Fundamentals of Partnering with Consumers, for Department of Health staff* who are currently or will be partnering with consumers on committees, projects, focus groups, etc.

The sessions are interactive and cover:

  • The why, what, who and when of engaging with consumers and carers
  • Barriers and enablers to effective engagement with consumers and carers
  • What you need to know to recruit, involve and support consumers and carers on committees and projects.

All sessions run from 9.00am to 12:30pm at 15 Butterfield St, Herston

Our next training session will be held on Monday 14th May.

Please visit Eventbrite to register.

* If you are a HHS staff member, please contact us or your HHS consumer engagement manager, to find out when we are next travelling to your area to deliver training.

Youth Mental Health update

Recent work with the Brisbane South PHN has seen our Engagement Advisor Leonie Sanderson facilitate five Lived Experience Workshops across the region in relation to Mental Health service planning.  These workshops have been well-attended by consumers and carers from a range of backgrounds including young people, people from multicultural backgrounds and the LGBTIQ community, all contributing their voice to developing the priorities for mental health services in Brisbane South.

The work on Youth Mental Health Reform and the Adolescent Extended Treatment Facility continues to progress at a fast pace.  The final co-design workshop with consumers and carers was held on 19 March, and the next round of co-design, focusing on the Step-Up/Step-Down units and the Day Programs should begin in April.  

You can follow the progress of this work through the communiques released on the Queensland Health website or contact Leonie via email at

Pasifika Women's Alliance celebration

Health Consumers Queensland was delighted to join in the Pasifika Women’s Alliance International Women’s Day celebration recently.  Health Consumers Queensland’s Reema Naresh represented us all at the event which she described as “a lovely colourful day".  The theme was ‘Press for Progress’, so it was a great way for Reema to connect with women as their theme was very much in line with what our work is about too!  


Reema had bunches of flowers and a box of chocolates which were great conversation starters as she could offer the Pasifika women flowers for their hair and some chocolate for an afternoon energy boost.  Reema said the purpose of hosting a table at events such as this help to raise awareness about Health Consumers Queensland and also to educate Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities about the concept of consumer partnering.  “This concept is often new for CALD communities so our presence means they can begin to learn about this work and see for themselves that we are approachable and that if they participate in workshops with us there is the opportunity to become effective voices for their communities,” Reema said.

Experienced Based Co-Design: a toolkit for Australia

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) and the Consumers Health Forum of Australian (CHF) have released a toolkit to assist individual hospitals and healthcare services to provide better experiences of healthcare for both workers and patients.

Experience-Based Co-Design: a toolkit for Australia guides services in using the expertise and experiences of healthcare staff and patients in a genuine equal and reciprocal relationship to develop a better healthcare experience for all.  The AHHA and CHF, with support from PwC, commissioned Prestantia Health (Adjunct Prof. Paresh Dawda and Dr Andrew Knight) to develop the toolkit which it utilises overseas experience as well as Australian knowledge to provide a clear five-step process for Australian settings.

The toolkit is available free of charge at

Resources for consumers about the NSQHS Standards (2nd Edition)

The National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards were endorsed and released late last year.  Earlier this month, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) released three fact sheets for consumers about the NSQHS Standards covering the following areas: Developed in consultation with consumers and the state-based health consumer organisations, the fact sheets share advice on what consumers can expect on these areas.  Further resources will be made available throughout the year.

These three fact sheets can be found on the ACSQHC website under the Information for consumers section towards the bottom of the page.

CheckUP releases its Health in Focus Report 2017

The annual CheckUP survey, Health in Focus, aims to investigate issues faced by primary health care practitioners and the general public in Queensland focusing on a range of topics including workforce models, care coordination, preventative health, digital health and interface between different sectors.

Now in its ninth year, the annual survey continues to evolve and now includes responses from the general public giving a more comprehensive overview of the health system.

To download the report, click here.

National Advance Care Planning Week (16 - 22 April)

National Advance Care Planning Week, 16 to 22 April, encourages all Australians, regardless of their age or health, to make their future health care preferences known.  The initiative challenges people to start conversations with loved ones about what living well means to them and to consider who they would want to speak for them, if they were too sick to speak for themselves.

Host an event during National Advance Care Planning Week to help your friends, family or community learn more about advance care planning and to start talking about what’s most important to them.  Your event could be a casual morning tea, a formal seminar, or simply just a conversation at a local support group.  

For more information, event tips and relevant forms, or to register your event, visit the Advanced Care Planning Australia website here.

Australian Story: The Man in Bed 10

Did you catch this inspiring episode on Australian Story recently?  It is a must-watch episode about Gold Coast Dr Dinesh Palipana’s journey from medical student to doctor, after sustaining a spinal injury during his studies.  

He acknowledged how frustrating it was to become a patient lying in a hospital bed, being talked about during ward rounds.  We often hear how health professionals who experience the health systems themselves, either as a consumer or carer for a loved one, experience a profound deepening in their understanding of the unequal power dynamic in our health system and the need for person-centered care and consumer engagement.

Click here to watch Dr Palipana’s story.

Your Input into eNews

Do you know of a consumer engagement story that we could share in this e-News?  We welcome your input.

If you have a great consumer story, or anything else you’d like us to include in the e-News, please contact Health Consumers Queensland at or call us on (07) 3012 9090.

Copyright © 2018 Health Consumers Queensland, All rights reserved.

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