Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) is the peak organisation representing the interests of health consumers and carers in the state (as a not-for-profit, registered health promotion charity). Their focus is on consumer engagement that influences and leads improvements and delivers better health outcomes for all Queenslanders so their involvement in the implementation of the Barrett Centre Commission of Inquiry’s (COI) is a logical step.
Queensland Health have been particuarly proactive in engaging HCQ to assist with consumer and carer engagement as early as possible in the work that follows the COI. HCQ’s Chair Mark Tucker-Evans and General Manager Melissa Fox were invited to attend the second Queensland Health Family Briefing and Melissa made a presentation at the first meeting of the Steering Committee overseeing the implementation of recommendations.
Since then, in order to best facilitate the input from consumers/carers, HCQ has taken on an Engagement Advisor specifically to ensure that the community has the best options for involvement in the cration of new services and developments in the area of severe and chronic youth mental health. Leonie Sanderson will be working to assist people in providing the bureaucrats and planners with the vital perspective of real world experience of services (or the lack thereof) for young people whose mental health issues are severe and complex.
To plan new services, modify existing ones and implement better strategies, the government MUST know where the gaps lie. They must know what aspects of healthcare, education and other services are effective and which are ineffective. They must come to see how attitudes must change by hearing examples of the negative responses encountered by those seeking assistance. So for members of the public to be able to utilise Health Consumers Queensland to feed information to the government is an extremely useful mechanism. Few consumers/carers can be on committees/working groups – though it has been ensured that there will be as much representation there as possible, thanks to HCQ – because of the demands already on people’s time and energy. So to have alternate means of having a say is essential.
Leonie, Melissa and the HCQ team are dedicated to doing all they can to ensure that anyone who wishes to make a contribution has the opportunity to do so. They understand that there will be people who may wish to remain anonymous. They understand that people will need easy and direct ways to provide their own insights in their own time. They understand that many already impacted by the Barrett Centre closure may not wish to immerse themselves in a discussion about these issues yet again (a history of having to explain situations to numerous service providers; trauma through the uncertainty, inflexibility and in adequacy of the closure and transition; grief at the loss of three important friends; and the painful examination of it all through the Inquiry clearly leaves many feeling barely able to look one step ahead). Those who are advocating for better services understand that.
But it’s important also to realise that this is a rare opportunity to contribute directly to shaping services that could help you, someone you care about or someone you don’t even know who’s already beginning to suffer in the ways that the former Barrett community know all too well. So there will be people –like Leonie and Melissa and the others who’ve been doing what they can through the last through years – trying to find ways for as many people as possible to participate. Even if it’s only through brief comments in an online survey or on a carefully moderated forum, every idea and experience is important. It’s all information that the people planning don’t have. That could make sure that something better is made available.
So keep your eyes on the ‘Get Involved’ page where we’ll list specific initiatives that are underway (topics for discussion, links to places you can provide your comments etc.) or you can get in touch with Leonie directly at Leonie.Sanderson@hcq.org.au to share your ideas, needs or experiences or find out how to do so in a range of different ways.
Or you can go to HCQ’s dedicated page on the engagement by clicking here …
Go directly to their survey on what’s needed to support those affected by severe and complex mental health issues in Queensland, by clicking here …