Helen Mees’ LinkedIn page describes her as “committed and curious”. Certainly, she has honed her keen interest in hospital services since developing kidney disease in her 20s into an active and passionate role advocating for and representing consumers and carers at a local, state-wide and national level.
Helen currently sits on Queensland Health’s strategic, high level Tier 2 Patient Safety and Quality Advisory Committee as well as the Tier 3 Statewide Services Advisory Committee. Last year, she was appointed to Consumers Health Forum of Australia’s (CHF)Consumer Commission: Beyond COVID-19 with a diverse group of consumer leaders from across the nation to contribute views and ideas about the future of the Australian health and social care system.
At a local level, Helen sits on West Moreton Hospital and Health Service’s Safety and Quality Council and Darling Downs West Moreton Primary Health Network’s (PHN) Clinical Council.
She has hosted numerous Kitchen Table Discussions, amplifying the voices of lesser-heard members of the communities on health topics including the future of healthcare, ageing and the new health services comparison website, ‘Inform my Care’. She has contributed to numerous consultations during COVID-19 including on testing, health care priorities and innovation and is outspoken about the importance of the health and wellbeing of the health workforce.
Helen served as the inaugural Chair of Health Consumers Queensland’s Consumer Advisory Group, supporting and mentoring new and emerging consumers, and remains actively involved with Kidney Health Australia.
Helen never hesitates to remind decision-makers of the importance of including consumers in decisions that affect them. Together with other experienced consumers, she recently joined Health Consumers Queensland’s CEO, Melissa Fox at a Queensland Health COVID-19 planning forum to urge system leaders to ensure consumers continue to have a seat at the table during the planning, preparation and implementation of the State’s health response to the Delta variant.
What does Helen want people to get out of attending this course: Confidence and essential skills to improve your consumer engagement.
Phil Carswell has been a life-long activist in education, the Union movement, the gay community and as a leader during the Australian AIDS epidemic. He was the first President of the Victorian AIDS Council and sat on all the major AIDS policy and funding national committees during the first 15 years of the epidemic. He has worked as a volunteer and a paid worker in the health field for most of his life and also as a recipient of significant health care having received a kidney transplant in August 2019. He has gone on to be active in kidney health policy development and is a member of the Advancing Kidney Care 2026 Collaborative.
Phil has long been an advocate for the development of active partnerships in health, having had direct experience of such models during HIV/AIDS.
Currently, he is the consumer representative on the Princess Alexandra Hospital’s Incident Management Team for the COVID-19 pandemic and last year he was presented with the Metro South Health COVID-19 Staff Recognition Engagement Award for his significant contribution to their planning, preparation and response.
Phil sits on Metro South’s Executive Safety and Quality Committee and the Princess Alexandra Hospital’s Safety and Quality Committee. as well as Brisbane North Primary Health Network’s (PHN) Consumer Advisory Committee.
He is also the first consumer representative to join Metro South’s COVID-19 Governance Group.
He recently completed a two year term as a consumer representative member of the Queensland Clinical Senate as well as being the consumer representative on the Sexual Health Ministerial Advisory Committee.
Melissa Fox, Health Consumers Queensland’s CEO, said, “Phil’s particular strengths are his tireless raising of issues from a consumer perspective and his empathy in understanding the different challenges affecting both consumers and health staff and how we can reconcile these to achieve great health outcomes.”
What Phil would like consumers and carers to take away from this course: “I’ll share my insights into how it works day by day and meeting by meeting. I will pass on my tips and tricks for how to make your voice heard and how to find support for yourself as you navigate this role. You have power as well and I’d like to give you the confidence to use your power judiciously and strategically.”
It was great to be back at Clinical Excellence Showcase in October and meet up with consumers and health staff face-to-face and online to celebrate what has been achieved in health care during this time.
Clinical Excellence Showcase is described as a “one-stop shop for clinician improvements, shining a light on innovative models and projects that are being implemented across Queensland”, and this year’s program featured radical improvements and out-of-the-box innovations which were a true reflection of the lessons learnt during COVID in terms of doing things differently and collaborating online.
One of the highlights of the program was the Care through the eyes of consumers session which was hosted by our CEO, Melissa Fox.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 was passed on 16 September 2021 and allows for voluntary assisted dying to be available on 1 January 2023, providing dignity, choice and compassion for those at the end of their life.
HCQ made a number of submissions on the Bill and gave evidence at the public hearing in July following consultation with consumers and carers across the State to ensure a diverse range of views was captured and heard.
Our CEO, Melissa Fox has now been appointed to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Implementation Taskforce which will be supported by subcommittees responsible for the delivery of the extensive program of work to put in place the complex clinical and administrative arrangements. Melissa will lead the sub-committee focused on consumer/community engagement and continue to amplify the voices of consumers during the implementation phase. Two consumer and carer representatives are also being appointed to join each subcommittee.
Martin Chambers is a well-known member of HCQ’s network and currently sits on the Health Consumers Collaborative of Queensland. He has also been the Advancing Kidney Care 2026 (AKC2026) Collaborative’s consumer representative since its inception in late 2018.
In their September 2021 Communique, the AKC2026 Collaborative recognised and thanked him for his exceptional contribution to improving quality care for people with kidney disease. In their words, “For the past 15 years Martin has applied his many skills and lived experience to health advocacy, with a focus on patients with kidney disease, their carers’, and the building of strong and sustainable consumer partnerships with the public health system. Martin notes that ‘the best training you can get is when a loved one depends on you to keep them functional.’”