As Chief Executive Officer of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia, the challenges facing consumers are on my desk every day.

First and foremost, healthcare has to be about maintaining and improving the health of individual Australians.

Without that focus on the consumer, healthcare can just become a jumble of numbers and statistics, disconnected services and treatment options.

If the people who develop health policy and the people who make their living from delivering health services don’t listen to and learn from what the consumer is saying, then they’re really missing the point.

If we want a healthier society and healthier communities, we must engage with consumers at every level of an organisation, from involvement at every level of strategic planning and involving consumers on committees. After all, consumers provide a balanced view to those of health professionals and policy makers and are increasingly being recognised as a vital member of any committee.

Your role as a consumer representative is an exciting one. It does, however, have its challenges such as understanding how committees work and how you can contribute effectively during your term on the committee.

This resource, Guidelines for consumer representatives provides you with an orientation to your consumer representative role. CHF has had over 25 years of experience as the national peak body representing the interests of Australian healthcare consumers and together with experienced consumer representatives has developed this resource to de-mystify committee work and provide you with practical advice to assist you in your role. These Guidelines for consumer representatives can be used to supplement formal orientation training offered by some state based health consumer organisations and provide a refresher for experienced consumer representatives.

We hope that these Guidelines for consumer representatives will assist you to develop your skills and knowledge to support you in contributing the consumer perspective to your committee. I would also like to encourage you to network with other experienced consumer representatives and consumers within your health consumer organisations.

Good luck, we look forward to hearing about your achievements.

Adam Stankevicius

Chief Executive Officer
Consumers Health Forum of Australia

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