Consumer & Carer Leadership Colloquium

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF), the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) and Mental Health Australia worked together to hold a Consumer and Carer Leadership Colloquium on 21 March 2017 in Canberra, which included a preliminary dinner on 20 March 2017 and two lead-in webinars on 8 and 15 March 2017. Colloquium participants were selected from CHF, NRHA and Mental Health Australia networks.

Mental Health Australia sought expressions of interest through the National Register application process, from mental health consumers and carers who were interested in participating in the Colloquium, and who would benefit from its focus on emerging consumer / carer leaders. Mental Health Australia had 6 positions available. 

Please note that CHF also ran a separate selection process that representatives could also apply through (further information on CHF’s process is available here).

Why a Colloquium?

The three host organisations all work with consumers / carers who are interested in advocating for a better Australian health system.

Our ways of working with these leaders may differ and we may use different terminology, but we have a shared interest in:

  • identifying and nurturing emerging consumer / carer leaders with potential and interest to participate in and shape health reform at the national level;
  • supporting consumer / carer leaders to act with impact and influence;
  • providing opportunities for cross-fertilisation of ideas from consumer / carer leaders with different perspectives on the health system; and
  • growing and diversifying our pools of consumer / carer leaders.

The Colloquium was held at a time when the value of people-centred approaches to policy was gaining currency and the health and social care horizon was rapidly changing, with many challenges as well as growing opportunity for reform and innovation.

What is a colloquium?

A colloquium is an interactive conference-style event. Our Colloquium was an opportunity to discuss issues of importance to emerging health consumer / carer leaders. It had a learning, development and planning focus. 

Who was the Colloquium aimed at?

Up to 80 consumers / carers participated in the Colloquium. We sought participants who wanted to achieve a more consumer-centred health system and enjoyed sharing ideas with other like-minded people.  

Our aim was to involve individuals who were emerging consumer / carer leaders. By this we meant individuals who have started to be involved in health consumer / carer representation or advocacy work, perhaps at a local, regional or state / territory level, and who were enthusiastic and interested in doing more or different roles, particularly at the national level.

All expressions of interest were assessed on their merits.

What did participants get out of the Colloquium?

The Colloquium program provided emerging consumer / carer leaders with an opportunity to:

  • discuss and better understand the health reform environment, implications and opportunities;
  • learn some new leadership skills and mentorship practices;  
  • join an emerging leaders network as well as existing consumer/carer networks through CHF, NRHA and Mental Health Australia;   
  • discuss and identify development, mentorship and leadership needs of emerging consumer/carer leaders.

What outcomes resulted from the Colloquium?

In addition to what individuals gained from their participation at the Colloquium, the Colloquium was also designed to generate a plan of action for future co-operation to strengthen the role of the consumer/carer community in shaping health and related policy. This action plan included the possibility for a future webinar program, online discussion forums, etc.

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