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Consumer Representatives

We provide input into health services and facilities by bringing our life experiences and stories from the community.

Barwon Health is committed to consumer participation in the planning, delivery and evaluation of the health services we provide. "Consumer perspectives can assist in making health information more balanced and relevant to patients, and increase the chance of meeting the needs of consumers." - National Health and Medical Research Council

Barwon Health's Consumer Representatives are individuals who are interested in providing input into Barwon Health's policies, programs and services from a consumer perspective. The term consumer refers to patients, residents, clients, carers/family and community members who have used or may use the services of Barwon Health in the future.

Why is consumer representation important?

We seek to understand what matters to our consumers and to work with them to co-design our services. We also seek to improve the health literacy of our community.

Consumer engagement refers to the opportunities that are available to all within Barwon Health's region - regardless of status, culture, gender, sexuality or age - to have a say in the development, delivery, planning and evaluation of health services.

Health literacy is “about how people understand information about health and health care, and how they apply that information to their lives, use it to make decisions and act on it.” NSHQS, 2016.

Consumer rep program

"I have found the role to be one of the most personally rewarding things I have ever done.  There is an increasing emphasis on the importance of involving consumers in our health  systems and this role has enabled me to contribute in a positive way and partner  alongside health professionals and draw upon my life experiences, strengths and skills. I  consider this role an honour and a privilege to be able to be actively involved in  improving the consumer experience in the provision of quality and safety of our health  services." - Consumer Representative, Barwon Health

Benefits of consumer participation

  •  Active consumer participation in decision-making improves health outcomes
  •  Active consumer participation leads to more accessible, innovative and effective health  services
  •  Active involvement of consumers at all levels of the development, implementation and  evaluation of health strategies ​and programs is integral to their success.

​Role overview

Consumer Representatives contribute life experiences, bring a valuable and unique insight and provide an important balance to the views of healthcare professionals by participating and contributing. Consumer Representatives:

  • Participate on committees or in forums or focus groups at Barwon Health
  • Review and advise on information designed for consumers - electronic and written through the WISE (Written Information Simply Explained) Program (at fortnightly WISE clinics)
  • Have input into policy and strategic plans
  • Participate in training, support and fundraising

For information about WISE email

Who are Barwon Health Consumer Representatives?

They are members of our community who have an interest in healthcare and a desire to improve Barwon Health services. Consumer Representatives come from many different backgrounds and life experiences. Consumer Representatives may have had personal experiences as a patient or may be a family member, carer or friend who is using or has used Barwon Health services.

Consumer Representatives want to:

  • Improve facilities and information for consumers
  • Help our community know more about their health
  • Ensure people feel part of decision making in their health
  • Represent diverse groups in the in the community

Applying to become a Consumer Representative

Recruitment, support and supervision processes for Consumer Representatives are similar to processes for Barwon Health employees. To be a Consumer Representative you will need to undergo an interview and police check, and participate in orientation training. There will also be an initial probationary period to ensure the role is a good fit for you/us. Our Consumer Engagement Team will help match your interests with suitable opportunities to ensure volunteering is a rewarding and mutually beneficial experience.

As a Consumer Representative you will be able to:

  • Respond to invitations to provide feedback to Barwon Heath
  • Receive relevant Barwon Health newsletters, and publications
  • Receive information about opportunities to participate in Barwon Health committees, focus groups or consultations
  • Have the opportunity to identify and raise emerging issues from a consumer perspective
  • Have opportunities to meet with other Consumer Representatives
  • Receive information about training, conferences and workshops
  • Receive support from the consumer engagement team.

To apply to become a Consumer Representative, please click here. Once your application is received, we will make contact with you to discuss your application and arrange an interview, training / orientation and any other requirements.

Common terms used​

Term Definition
Carer​​​ People, often family and friends, who provide care or assistance to another person who is frail, has a disability, a chronic or a mental illness.
Community Defines a geographical group of a community with shared interest.
Consumer Anyone who uses, or has the potential to use the health service. This also includes patients, residents and clients.
Consumer engagement Activities between the health service, consumer, carer and community groups providing valuable input into the health service and decision making at all levels.
Consumer representatives People who participate on behalf of the community and bring a patient or carer perspective.
Health literacy Individual health literacy is skills, knowledge, motivation and capacity of a person to access, understand, appraise and apply information to make effective decisions about health and healthcare, and take action.The health literacy environment is the infrastructure, policies, processes, materials, people and relationships which make up the health system and have an impact on the way in which people access, understand, appraise and apply health-related information and services.
Participation Participation is about having your say, thinking about why you believe in your view, and listening to the views and ideas of others.

For further information about the Consumer Representative Program email

Thanks to the consumer representatives who helped write this information.

Last Modified: Tuesday, 05 February 2019