eNews from Health Consumers Queensland
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eNews June 2019

In this issue:

From the Chair

It was such a pleasure to attend this year’s Health Consumers Queensland Annual Forum and to personally experience the high level of energy and engagement among the more than 230 delegates.  Thanks again to all who attended and a special thanks to Far North Queensland for providing such a warm welcome to us.  It was a reminder of the vastness of our state and to reconnect us to each other in listening and learning to our practices and priorities. 
Nearly all of Health Consumers Queensland’s Board members were in attendance, participating as chairs or members of the awards committee.  Our three newest members really enjoyed the experience and opportunity to immerse themselves in the health consumer community.
I would like to congratulate all the projects who were eligible for this year’s Consumer Awards.  I know that the panel had a tough job choosing this year’s winners from a strong field.  All the presentations demonstrated that there are genuine end-to-end partnerships throughout Queensland’s health system helping to generate real change.
Keren Pointon and Claire Reilly, from Children’s Health Queensland, were worthy winners of the Partnership Award.  I found their presentation so inspiring and a great showcase for many of the reforms we’d like to see.  Keren and Claire clearly showed how consumers can contribute personal insights and best practices that aren’t often found or given consideration in the health system, but which can bring positive health care outcomes for consumers.  Keren’s case reiterated that just because health system metrics are being met for a patient, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t other hidden implications or unintended outcomes that are having a negative impact on their quality of life.  By asking different questions, and looking at an issue from a different perspective, it is positive to achieve a more holistic approach to healthcare for consumers.
I also congratulate Jessica Toleman and Leah Hardiman from Metro North Hospital and Health Service who's demonstration on what a strong partnership can achieve earned them the Highly Commended Partnership Award.  As a consumer advocate for women and families Leah has had and is having a profound impact for so many.  She has helped them to navigate and communicate what it is they want and need, and encouraged women, particularly those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, to have conversations with her that they don’t feel they can have with health professionals.
Lastly, I don’t think there was a dry eye when the People’s Choice Award winner Gary Hondow spoke about his family’s journey in getting a diagnosis and then treatment for his son who has a very rare genetic disorder.  Gary’s story was very moving and such an insight into the complexities and difficulties faced by health consumers who don’t fit a usual diagnosis.
I would like to recognise the Indigenous elders and emerging leaders who participated in the forum – it was so wonderful to have such a strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander presence this year.  We learnt a lot about holistic health that is culturally grounded and the positive impact that this makes.
I appreciate senior members of the health system attending to listen and engage with consumers.  This demonstrates their genuine partnering with Health Consumers Queensland and all consumers.  I also thank the Minister for Health, the Hon. Steven Miles MP, for attending and taking so many questions.  I know that his attendance and interaction was greatly appreciated by delegates.
Thanks again to all and we look forward to engaging throughout the year. 
Erin Evans

Annual Forum 2019


Over two incredible days in Far North Queensland we welcomed more than 230 delegates from Queensland’s health sector as well as their partnering consumers to connect, innovate and transform consumer partnerships now and in the future.
Sixty speakers took to the stage during this year’s Health Consumers Queensland Annual Forum, with our amazing MC Lexy Hamilton-Smith helping to bring the event to life and sharing her own health journey caring for her husband.  Our speakers covered an incredibly diverse range of topics, which no doubt left delegates impressed and inspired to replicate some of the examples of best practice or reshape their own existing programs.
Some of the key presentations included the Consumers Leading Consultation – Kitchen Table Discussions which explored how they work, how to host them and why they are so successful; From gen z to gen y: transforming youth engagement with their panel of youth consumers who were so engaging and enthusiastic; Disruptors or Delegates? Deputy Directors-General Panel which included three DDGs who were put under the spotlight as they explored the next three to five years of consumer engagement and the legacy they hope to leave.  Behind the Wire Engagement was an insightful presentation about the work being done by Health Consumers Queensland to improve prisoner’s health and health care, while the sessions showcasing the drive for change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were also very well-received.  A session on yarning circles on day two was a big hit with delegates, who were able to gain a deeper understanding of how to further strengthen their understanding of and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
We were thrilled to welcome the Honourable Steven Miles MP, Minster for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services, to discuss consumer engagement and conduct a lengthy Q&A session with the audience, which was greatly appreciated.

Consumer Awards
Following last year’s inaugural Consumers Awards, we were thrilled to announce this year’s winners.  This year we awarded a Highly Commended and an overall Winner for the Partnership Award, as well as our first People’s Choice Award.
The Partnership Award was won by Claire Reilly, Paediatric Dietician, and Keren Pointon, Consumer Representative, both Children’s Health Queensland, for their presentation on How a consumer advocate connected to innovate change.

(L-R) Claire Reilly, Keren Pointon, Dr John Wakefield

The Partnership Award - Highly Commended went to Jessica Toleman, A/Executive Director, Women’s and Newborn Services, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, and Leah Hardiman, Partnering Consumer and Consumer Lead, both Metro North Hospital and Health Service, for their presentation on Meaningful engagement for women and families at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

 Jessica Toleman (L) and Leah Hardiman (R)

The People’s Choice Award was chosen by delegates who could vote for who they felt delivered the best overall presentation during the forum.  The People’s Choice Award went to Gary Hondow and his partnering health service Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service, for their presentation on How did I get here…the story of a consumer’s journey from concerned parent to a consumer advocate.

(L-R) Melissa Fox, Gary Hondow, Sharmaine Hondow, Dr John Wakefield

Sincere thanks
We would like to sincerely thank our 60 presenters who kept us all thoroughly informed and inspired over the two days, and a big congratulations to this year’s winners.
We thank Dr John Wakefield, the Deputy Director-General from Clinical Excellence Queensland who attended and announced the award winners.  Clinical Excellence Queensland, a division of the Queensland Government’s Queensland Health, was our Event Partner and Major Sponsor, so thank you.
We received welcome support for the second year in a row from Queensland Genomics, and thank them for their presentation on Bringing Genomics to the community – what do you want to know?

Thank you to Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service for sponsoring the catering of our networking drinks.
The Royal Doctors Association of Queensland also provided sponsorship to assist with bringing six rural and remote consumers to attend our forum as well as the opening night to their conference.
Thank you to Stella Florals in Cairns for the fresh floral arrangements which helped to brighten up our venue, and for coming back at the end of the forum to deliver all the flowers to a local nursing home ensuring they could continue to be loved and appreciated!
Thank you to the local Tjapukai Aboriginal dancers who did the most incredible traditional dance performance at our welcome cocktail party after the first day.  This was followed by a fire-making ceremony which involved two delegates – Barb Philips, Deputy Director-General for Corporate Services Division, and Consumer Representative and People’s Choice Winner Gary Hondow.  Gary and Barb partnered together to work on the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme reform project, so it was very appropriate for these two to participate in the fire-making ceremony together.

Tjapukai dancer

Thank you to our 230 delegates who attended the forum, sharing their enthusiasm and energy for learning and sharing and helping to shape the future of consumer engagement. 
We are excited to say that we have already begun planning our 2020 forum.  We have received such incredible feedback that this year’s forum was the best yet, so we will certainly be working hard to top that next year!

Community-based training

Our community-based training sessions have certainly proved to be popular.  Health Consumers Queensland Engagement Advisor, Reema Naresh, hosted our second fully-booked community-based training session on May 1 at the Chermside Library.
These training sessions are an opportunity to connect with the local community, learn about the Australian Charter of Health Care Rights, and begin conversations that involve everyday people and can make a difference in health care design and delivery.  The sessions are designed to be relaxed and provide opportunities to ask questions and explore and understand the health care system that we all need to access at some point in our lives.  
We hope to run these sessions every quarter, so keep an eye out for the next one in your community.  If you are interested in hosting a conversation or to attend a future training session, please contact Reema at or 07 3012 9090.

PTSS Update

The Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme (PTSS) Reform Project has been ongoing for some time now and has just been wrapped up this month.  A number of consumers were involved in this process that has resulted in an improved website, greater ease in completing the forms, and improvements that will hopefully result in more consistent decision making across the state.  We look forward to hearing consumers’ feedback.
Health Consumers Queensland consumer representatives Gary Hondow and Kaye Jordan were part of the state-wide steering committee helping to improve the experience of individuals and families using the PTSS.  Well done to everyone who participated over the course of this project.

What matters to you in relation to ageing,
end-of-life care and dying

Health Consumer Queensland’s Engagement Consultant Anne Curtis continues her journey around the state facilitating 15 focus groups who are discussing What Matters to you in relation to Ageing, End-Of-Life Care and Dying.
Anne recently visited Thursday Island and met with local community elders to host a conversation on this topic.  Anne was interviewed by Radio Torres Strait along with Palliative Care Queensland CEO Shyla Mills and COTA Queensland’s Bronwyn Bidstrup.
Next stop for Anne is Toowoomba, Ipswich, Longreach, Roma and Brisbane North.

Expanding Quality and Safety reporting
kitchen table discussions update

Evidence shows the safest healthcare providers share appropriate information and create and promote a safety-focused culture.  This leads to higher quality care because the health system learns from incidents and variations in clinical outcomes, and patients use this to make choices about their care.
It was announced last year that an interactive website would be launched that would enable the public to access a range of information on Queensland’s public and private hospitals.  Over the last several months, consumers and health professional stakeholders have been consulted about the type of content the proposed website should include.
Stakeholders were generally highly supportive of the proposal and highlighted a range of information they felt would be useful to know about hospitals and their services.  Consumers reported a need for improved availability of information, emphasising the importance of quality and safety information about health services.
Consumers and health professionals alike recognised the significant benefits associated with expanding reporting of public and private hospitals that may lead to system wide improvements.
Health Consumers Queensland conducted nine kitchen table discussions and 12 focus groups with consumers around the state and is grateful to everyone who participated in this project.
The proposed website will be co-designed with health consumers and health professional stakeholders, with further consultation to be undertaken from June 2019.  Details on how to participate in the next phase of consultation will be made widely available.
If you’d like to know more about this project, please email

Department of Health training

Health Consumers Queensland conduct training sessions for Department of Health staff who are currently or will be partnering with consumers on committees, projects or focus groups.
Dates are listed below and can be booked via Eventbrite here.  All sessions are 8:30am to 12:30pm. Please note some dates, times and locations have changed.
Tues 30 July
Health Consumers Queensland, Ground Floor Boardroom, 340 Adelaide St, Brisbane  
Thurs 29 August
Department of Health, Upper Plaza Room 1, 33 Charlotte St, Brisbane
Wed 18 September
Health Consumers Queensland, Ground Floor Boardroom, 340 Adelaide St, Brisbane  
Wed 16 October
Department of Health, Upper Plaza Room 1, 33 Charlotte St, Brisbane
Thurs 21 November
Department of Health, Upper Plaza Room 1, 33 Charlotte St, Brisbane.
All sessions are designed to increase the capacity of health staff to partner with consumers and carers from a consumer-centred care value base.
2020 dates to be released soon!

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.

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