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Consumer participation in health care encompasses both current and potential consumers of health services, carers and the wider community participating in decision making about health care. For the health and community sector, the parameters of what constitutes consumer participation are very broad and can include anything from individual decisions about care to participating in policy, workforce and service development.

The evidence supporting consumer participation in health demonstrates that participation:

  • Can lead to more accessible and effective health services
  • Is a mechanism to ensure accountability
  • Can improve health outcomes and the quality of services

CALD consumers make up approximately 25% of the Victorian population3. Accordingly, CALD consumers need to be actively engaged by health and community organisations to ensure that service and program models meet the needs of a quarter of the population. 

The participation of individuals and communities can be influenced by a variety of factors from personal preference to socioeconomic circumstances. For CALD consumers, their ability to participate may be limited by such things as language proficiency, migration experience, social isolation, other personal priorities such as housing and employment and lack of familiarity with meeting structures and the Australian health system. These factors must be considered in order to determine the relevance of a particular participation strategy to CALD consumers and communities.

‘Consumer participation’ is used in this report to broadly describe processes of community participation, carer participation, patient-centred care or client participation. CEH has chosen the term consumer participation as it is most commonly used in academic literature on participation in health.

The purpose of this report is to present findings from a conference that CEH held in September 2005 which was called Consumer Participation and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities: Working Together Towards Good Practice. The aim of the conference was to explore ways in which health and community organisations facilitate and support the participation of CALD consumers in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services, programs and projects. 

The report discusses some of the areas of CALD consumer participation that could be reflected upon when designing and implementing effective strategies. The themes in this report are supported by a series of case studies which demonstrate how a health or community organisation has worked with CALD communities and consumers. These case studies were drawn from presentations at the conference.

Last reviewed:

Languages: English

Resource Type: Report