We work closely with consumers to promote positive health outcomes. We use the definition of consumer participation outlined in the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services, Doing it with us not for us: Strategic Direction 2010-2013 and the Cultural Responsiveness Framework - Guidelines for Victorian health services (2009)

‘…when consumers, carers and community members are meaningfully involved in decision-making about health policy and planning, care and treatment, and the wellbeing of themselves and the community…’

We also expand this definition to include consumers in the process of designing and delivering health services.

The way health services are delivered is now changing. New policies and regulations at state and national level mean there is more focus on consumer participation. For more information, check out:

There are three main ways consumers can be involved in healthcare:

  1. Direct care level – consumers take part in their own healthcare and treatment, and that of their family and carers. Health services should support consumers to be equal partners in their care.
  2. Service level – consumers take part in the design of healthcare services, the way services are delivered and in quality improvement projects. Health professionals and services should partner with consumers in making decisions about the care they receive.
  3. System level – consumers take part in quality and safety improvement activities across the wider healthcare system. Healthcare organisations should partner with consumers in governance, planning, and policy development to co-design and drive improvement in performance monitoring and evaluation.

To help us work out the best way to involve consumers, we held a Consumer Advisor Forum in May 2018. Representatives from community health services, hospitals, mental health services and consumer groups and networks attended. For more detail on the forum please download the Forum Report.

The Consumer Adviser Forum recommended the establishment of a Consumer Engagement Network (CEN) as an SMPCP Working Group with two constituent groups:

  • Consumers
  • Consumer Participation Coordinators

All recommendations from the forum can be accessed by downloading the Discussion Paper and Recommendations.

CEN graphic
The SMPCP Consumer Engagement Network aims to work with consumers and health services to design better  systems (co-design). This is called working at the systems level. We encourage and support our partners and stakeholders to increase consumer input when designing and improving their services. This is called working at the service level.


The key tasks identified for the CEN include:

  • Identify and facilitate common training opportunities for consumers and co-ordinators
    • Improving health literacy for consumer representatives
    • Meeting procedures
    • Engaging with clinicians
    • Health governance systems
    • National Standards
    • Understanding Quality and Safety data
    • Communication skill – influencing and providing constructive feedback
    • Advocacy skills
  • Quarterly co-ordinators support meetings to share ideas and strategies to promote consumer engagement and identify and facilitate common training opportunities for consumer representatives
  • Opportunities for consumers to have online and ‘face-to-face’ meetings to bring forward common issues that can be taken to health services management (i.e. recognition and reimbursement policy, promoting engagement with CALD communities and other diverse communities ATSI, LGBTQI)

pdfTerms of Reference - Consumer CEN members 653.68 KB196.92 KB

pdfDraft Terms of Reference - Consumer Participation Coordinator CEN members182.12 KB


Service Directory

Find a service using the National Health Service Directory

Better Health Channel

Find health information on the Better Health Channel

Health Issues Centre

Learn more about consumer participation ...