ReSpect July 2013

What is Consumer Participation?

‘The process of involving health Consumers in decision-making about health services planning, policy development, setting priorities and quality issues in the delivery of health services'. (Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing)

What is Consumer Participation?

‘The process of involving health Consumers in decision-making about health services planning, policy development, setting priorities and quality issues in the delivery of health services'. (Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing)

History of Consumer Participation at UnitingCare ReGen

UnitingCare ReGen has been exploring participation of its Consumers for some time and in October 2011 conducted an assessment of Consumer Participation activities. This was in response to recommendations in a report on quality Improvement. This assessment led to the development of a working group to review this area and provide recommendations to move forward. After investigating three different models of Consumer Participation, ReGen adopted the Facilitation and Coordination Model and employed seed funding for a Consumer Participation Facilitator. Regina Brindle commenced in this position on May 20, 2013.

Consumer Participation Facilitator Role

Essentially, this is to promote, encourage, facilitate, advocate for and support meaningful Consumer Participation within ReGen.

Background on Regina Brindle

Regina’s expertise in Consumer Participation was established whilst managing the Association of Participating Service Users (APSU), a service facet of the Self Help Addiction Resource Centre, for six years as well as her continuing involvement with Harm Reduction Victoria (HRV) as a member of their board for the past two years. Both of these services promote, advocate and implement Consumer Participation activities.

Additionally, Regina has worked in various education and community development roles in a number of aspects of the community sector since the mid 1980’s.

Consumer Participation Facilitator Activities

Since her commencement, The Consumer Participation Facilitator has been meeting with various teams and individuals to ascertain their roles, but also to obtain staff input into Consumer Participation practice at Uniting Care ReGen. Additionally, she has, with support from the Leadership at ReGen, formulated a training needs analysis to ascertain staff knowledge and skills pertaining to Consumer Participation and is developing an organisational assessment tool to determine the extent of Consumer Participation practice at Uniting Care ReGen.

To facilitate Consumer involvement, Regina has presented information about Consumer Participation at various groups specifically for Consumers. These groups include Momentum, Family and Friends, Keeping Going and Catalyst.

The Consumer Participation Facilitator has also met with Consumer led services or services with established Consumer Participation practice. These services include the Association of Participating Service Users, Harm Reduction Victoria, Council for Homeless Persons, NEAMI and Mental Illness Fellowship.

Mapping of Consumer Participation Activities

The information obtained from various meetings with individuals and teams has been used to construct the mapped activities presented in the table below.

Activity Possible Improvement
Client Charter and Complaints Process Consumer driven update of charter and feedback systems including complaints process. This may be included in policy as a regular feature of this process. (Partnership)
Client Topic Survey Peers to formulate topics and administer survey. (Partnership)
Compliments and complaints at Curran Place morning meeting  
Blogs on ReGen Website Promote and encourage further Consumer Participation in blog.
BlueBelly Wiki pages  
Facebook Specialised group page for Consumers.
Presenters at Drug Action Week Development of procedure.
Catalyst Peer Facilitator The availability of training opportunities as payment with the view of possible role creation.
Evaluation of Catalyst including survey and focus groups Consumer implementation of survey or presentation of evaluation results at staff meeting.
Peer Workers at Port Phillip Prison Peers in Prison assisting with the evaluation process.
Drug Action Week Community Lunch Promote systemically to increase Consumer attendance.
Evaluation of Education and Training Services  
Consumer development of training modules and materials
regarding the experience of dual diagnosis


Staff Ideas

Staff involvement in Consumer Participation at ReGen is valuable. During conversations with staff a rich array of ideas have been offered. These are presented in the following arenas:

Service Area Idea Level of participation
Catalyst Reimbursement for Consumers in the form of Consumer
completion of training competencies.
Catalyst Peers evaluate the Consumer response to the new DOH screeners. This data can be used to ensure the quality of the process. Consultation and Partnership
Education and Training, Assessment and intake and Catalyst Consumers to participate in the staff recruitment process. Partnership
Port Phillip Alcohol and other Drug Services Trained Peers to present during training sessions as a means of engaging project participants. Partnership
Non Residential Withdrawal Use of text messages to evaluate Consumer experience of amphetamine withdrawal. Consultation
Port Phillip Alcohol and other Drug Service Survey to assess the need for workers to connect people in prison with ReGen services outside of prison. Consultation
Education and Training Orientation of staff to include definition and practices of Consumer Participation. This may be as simple as passing on policy and procedure. Information
Education and Training Consumer Participation Pack to include client survey, client charter, and Consumer Participation document. Consultation to Partnership
Adult Counselling Team Peer workers to assist Consumers wishing to commence AA/NA. Partnership
Adult Counselling Team So that Consumers can contribute to the strategic plan, a group of Consumers to be set up and facilitated. Consultation
Education and Training Consumer led facilitation of training and Consumer validation of training. Partnership


Ideas from Consumers

Just as important as staff input, Consumer input at this stage of the project is highly valued. If you are consumer of
ReGen services and wish to contribute to the organisation contact Regina on 03 9384 8894 or email at

coffeeHappiness is a Cup of Coffee

Any decent Melburnian will tell you that a good cup of coffee is an essential daily ritual and this is precisely what we are setting up for ReGen clients. Presently, Samantha (Manager of
Cooperate Services) and Regina are shopping for the best coffee machine that will do everything, but wash the dishes. Offering a good brew complements the welcoming practice at ReGen and will impact upon client response to treatment.



Consumer Lead Services Services Specialising in Consumer Participation

Association of Participating Service Users (APSU)
140 Grange Road, Carnegie, Vic 3163
Phone: (03) 9573 1778 Fax: (03) 9572 3498

Harm Reduction Victoria (formerly VIVAIDS)
128 Peel Street, North Melbourne, Vic 3051
Phone: (03) 9329 1500 Fax: (03) 9329 1501

Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC)
Building 1, 22 Aintree Street, Brunswick East, Vic 3057
Phone: (03) 9380 3900

Association of Participating Service Users (APSU)
140 Grange Road, Carnegie, Vic 3163
Phone: (03) 9573 1778 Fax: (03) 9572 3498

Health Issues Centre
Level 5, Health Sciences 2, La Trobe University, Vic 3086
Phone: (03) 9479 5827 Fax: (03) 9479 5977
Email: Web:

Council for Homeless Persons
2 Stanley Street, Collingwood Victoria 3066
Phone (03) 8415 6200