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    Partnering with consumers is key to driving improvements in healthcare for all Victorians.

    Consumers have first-hand experience in the healthcare system and provide unique feedback that should be incorporated into all levels of the health system.

    This guide provides information for healthcare agencies on how to  engage with consumer representatives.

    1. Plan

    The key to effective consumer partnership is a well-designed plan with clear goals and outcomes. This might involve:

    • researching consumer engagement
    • setting clear goals and outcomes.

    When planning to engage a consumer representative, ask your team the following questions:

    • What skills, knowledge and experience are needed?
    • How will I recruit?
    • What are my timeframes?
    • What special provisions do I need to make so consumers from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences can participate?

    Consumers should be paid for their time

    Safer Care Victoria and the Victorian Government have guidelines in place that ensure public organisations pay consumer representatives for their time. These costs should be factored into your budget and engagement strategy. 

    Read our Guide to consumer remuneration or the whole-of-government guidelines. 

    Consumers shouldn't work alone

    We recommend that all working groups have at least two consumers. This helps to support the consumers and provides diverse perspectives.

    2. Prepare

    Make sure your organisation is ready for your planned engagement strategy by:

    • drafting reference materials
    • establishing a consumer contact for the organisation
    • preparing orientation materials.

    Before you start recruiting... 

    You should have a clearly defined role and description of what is required from consumers. 

    Read our consumer recruitment checklist.

    You will need to prepare reference materials for the role, including:

    • expression of interest
    • position descriptions
    • terms of reference (for a committee or working group).

    Have clear processes in place

    During the recruitment process, you should provide:

    • clear selection criteria and timeframes
    • regular contact
    • feedback for unsuccessful candidates and respectful communication 
    • a written offer to successful candidates (this can be as simple as an email). 

    Preparing for your new starter


    When setting up remuneration for consumers , you have two choices:

    • Pay consumers as external suppliers through general expense claims. This method is best for short-term and single events.
    • Pay consumers as internal staff members through payroll. This is the preferred option for multiple events and long-term engagement.  

    Some of the common human resource documents you may need to provide to your consumers are a tax file declaration, police check and superannuation choice forms. 

    Download Remunerating consumers: a guide for government. 

    Orientation pack

    You should also prepare an orientation pack, including information such as:

    • how and when they will be paid
    • contact information for the organisation and committee members
    • background information on the committee they are joining
    • information on meeting locations and security access
    • conflict of interest declarations
    • confidentiality requirements.

    3. Proceed

    Now that your consumer partnership is active you may like to consider:

    • professional development for consumers
    • connecting your consumers
    • evaluating goals and outcomes.

    Professional development for consumers

    Training is an important way to support consumers and show you value them.

    Connecting your consumers

    Keep in mind consumer representatives are often the only non-clinical or non-organisational member of committees.  This can be a bit isolating, so we recommend connecting them with other consumers who are working with your service.

    Supporting your staff to work with consumers

    See Safer Care Victoria training for health staff.

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