Health Consumers Centre

The Health Consumers Centre is based within the Institute for Health Transformation at Deakin University. It builds on the legacy created by the Health Issues Centre which championed and enabled consumer and community engagement in the health system from 1985 to its closure in 2024.  

The Health Consumers Centre champions consumer engagement in Victoria. We believe that by valuing and engaging with consumers and community members as equal and active partners, we can enable much needed and effective health system transformation.

We work across all parts of the health sector to ensure health policies, services and research are shaped by the people that they are designed to benefit. 

We passionately advocate for and support best practice in consumer and community engagement. We provide training, facilitation and consultancy services to support and deliver meaningful and transformational change. 

What is consumer and community engagement? 

Language is a powerful tool. No single set of definitions can describe how every person experiences their health and wellbeing, or how they define themselves.  It is always our intention to be inclusive and respectful and acknowledge that not everyone will agree with the terms we have chosen. 

Consumers: People with lived and living experience of health conditions, care, harm and recovery including carers, family members and supporters.  

Community: People with an interest in improving the health system, including potential health service users and volunteers.  

Engagement: A broad range of approaches to working with consumers and community members to listen, collaborate, partner, inform and create change. 

The Health Issues Centre story started in the early 1980s at a time when the prevailing culture in health was to do it for us, not with us. At the time there were no community or lived experience voices with a seat at the table to inform health policy, service development, improvement or research. In 1985 the organisation was officially established and operated for 39 years as Victoria’s peak health consumer agency. It ceased service delivery on the 7th of March 2024 due to sustained financial challenges. 

In May 2024, a new chapter in this story commenced with the Deakin University Insitute for Health Transformation announcing that it will build on the legacy created by the Health Issues Centre by creating a centre of excellence in consumer engagement in health. Under the initial banner of the Health Consumers Centre, over the coming months we will be engaging with consumer partners and health sector stakeholders to co-create the centre, its identity, purpose, role and business model. 

In parallel, the Health Consumers Centre continues to support the health sector at an exciting time where consumer and community engagement has moved past being a ‘nice to have’ and has become an essential mechanism of health system improvement. The demand for meaningful consumer and community engagement is growing, and we are seeing governments, healthcare organisations, and research institutions committed to improving the way they sustainably and impactfully embed this practice.   

We are thought and practice leaders in the art and science of consumer and community engagement in the health sector. 

We provide consultancy, facilitation, training and consumer recruitment support to the sector across Victoria and in partnership with our colleagues in other Australian states and territories. 

We build capabilities

The Health Consumers Centre empowers people with lived and living experience of ill health, harm and recovery and their carers and supporters by enhancing their confidence and skills as partners in research and in health system design and improvement. We also build the capabilities of health professionals, policy makers and researchers to integrate meaningful, impactful consumer and community engagement into their practice. 

We do this through: 

  • Training services 
  • Individualised support packages to provide tailored guidance to meet specific organisational or individual consumer engagement needs  
  • Programs to enhance capability building including mentoring and Communities of Practice 
  • Resource development and webinars to promote best practice. 

We engage consumers and communities

The Health Consumers Centre provides services to elevate the consumer voice and tap into lived and living experience. We work with government agencies, health organisations and research institutions to ensure that consumers are meaningfully engaged whether that be in designing a new service, updating a consumer engagement framework, translating research into the community, or understanding community perspectives to inform future policy development. 

Examples of our services include: 

  • End-to-end project management 
  • Project partnerships with community agencies to safely and effectively engage with people from different population groups 
  • Planning, recruitment of consumers and facilitation of engagement processes including co-design processes, consultation workshops and surveys 
  • Stakeholder engagement  
  • Support for consumers including debriefing services 
  • Analysis of findings and reporting.   

We support engagement efforts

The Health Consumers Centre has a large network of over 2,000 highly engaged consumers and community members that we communicate with regularly. We know it can be challenging to find and recruit consumers that bring a diverse perspective to engagement opportunities that are planned. We can share engagement opportunities amongst our network to help you reach the people you need. 

We can: 

  • Create consumer-friendly advertising assets 
  • Advertise opportunities 
  • Manage recruitment and selection processes 
  • Provide coaching support to build skills and enable successful engagement. 

Our values

We strongly align with the Institute for Health Transformation’s values which guide our actions:  

Collaborative We believe relationships are foundational to our success and key to maximising the impact of our work.  

Integrity We are honest and open in our work and how we deal with others. 

Equity We recognise disparities exist and actively seek to improve health and wellbeing in those with greatest need. 

Excellent We strive for excellence in all aspects of our work.  

Inclusive We value diversity, embrace difference and seek to engage and welcome all.  

Dynamic We are innovative and entrepreneurial, solving problems with creativity and flexibility. 

I want to learn more about consumer engagement, what resources do you available?

Resources that were developed by the Health Issues Centre are still available. This includes templates, toolkits and guidance documents for both consumers and health organisations. These can be accessed via the Health Issues Centre website in the resources section.

Why did the Health Issues Centre close?

Health Issues Centre experienced significant vulnerabilities as a small not-for-profit organisation and was unable to be sustained in an increasingly constrained funding environment. The custodianship of the Deakin University Institute for Health Transformation provides a vehicle for the legacy of the Health Issues Centre to be carried forward and for essential work in consumer engagement to evolve and grow. 

Will the Health Consumers Centre continue to be a resource for the health sector and not just the university sector? 

The Health Consumers Centre will operate as the state peak body and its delivery of services across every part of the health sector. The Health Consumer Centre team will engage with health services, policy makers, research institutions and, most importantly, with the community and create a vibrant and sustainable future for consumer engagement in health in Victoria, together. We will also partner with other state, territory and national health consumer peaks to contribute to national health system transformation efforts. 

I took part in opportunities with Health Issues Centre in the past, how can I engage with you on projects now? 

The best way to stay in touch with us and find out about opportunities to work with us is by making sure you are signed up to our Consumers Connect newsletter. Sign up here. 

Phone: 03 9246 8764
Email: healthconsumers@deakin.edu.au
Address: Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood VIC 3125

  • About

    The Health Consumers Centre champions consumer engagement in Victoria. We believe that by valuing and engaging with consumers and community members as equal and active partners, we can enable much needed and effective health system transformation.

    We work across all parts of the health sector to ensure health policies, services and research are shaped by the people that they are designed to benefit. 

    We passionately advocate for and support best practice in consumer and community engagement. We provide training, facilitation and consultancy services to support and deliver meaningful and transformational change. 

    What is consumer and community engagement? 

    Language is a powerful tool. No single set of definitions can describe how every person experiences their health and wellbeing, or how they define themselves.  It is always our intention to be inclusive and respectful and acknowledge that not everyone will agree with the terms we have chosen. 

    Consumers: People with lived and living experience of health conditions, care, harm and recovery including carers, family members and supporters.  

    Community: People with an interest in improving the health system, including potential health service users and volunteers.  

    Engagement: A broad range of approaches to working with consumers and community members to listen, collaborate, partner, inform and create change. 

  • Our story

    The Health Issues Centre story started in the early 1980s at a time when the prevailing culture in health was to do it for us, not with us. At the time there were no community or lived experience voices with a seat at the table to inform health policy, service development, improvement or research. In 1985 the organisation was officially established and operated for 39 years as Victoria’s peak health consumer agency. It ceased service delivery on the 7th of March 2024 due to sustained financial challenges. 

    In May 2024, a new chapter in this story commenced with the Deakin University Insitute for Health Transformation announcing that it will build on the legacy created by the Health Issues Centre by creating a centre of excellence in consumer engagement in health. Under the initial banner of the Health Consumers Centre, over the coming months we will be engaging with consumer partners and health sector stakeholders to co-create the centre, its identity, purpose, role and business model. 

    In parallel, the Health Consumers Centre continues to support the health sector at an exciting time where consumer and community engagement has moved past being a ‘nice to have’ and has become an essential mechanism of health system improvement. The demand for meaningful consumer and community engagement is growing, and we are seeing governments, healthcare organisations, and research institutions committed to improving the way they sustainably and impactfully embed this practice.   

  • What we do

    We are thought and practice leaders in the art and science of consumer and community engagement in the health sector. 

    We provide consultancy, facilitation, training and consumer recruitment support to the sector across Victoria and in partnership with our colleagues in other Australian states and territories. 

    We build capabilities

    The Health Consumers Centre empowers people with lived and living experience of ill health, harm and recovery and their carers and supporters by enhancing their confidence and skills as partners in research and in health system design and improvement. We also build the capabilities of health professionals, policy makers and researchers to integrate meaningful, impactful consumer and community engagement into their practice. 

    We do this through: 

    • Training services 
    • Individualised support packages to provide tailored guidance to meet specific organisational or individual consumer engagement needs  
    • Programs to enhance capability building including mentoring and Communities of Practice 
    • Resource development and webinars to promote best practice. 

    We engage consumers and communities

    The Health Consumers Centre provides services to elevate the consumer voice and tap into lived and living experience. We work with government agencies, health organisations and research institutions to ensure that consumers are meaningfully engaged whether that be in designing a new service, updating a consumer engagement framework, translating research into the community, or understanding community perspectives to inform future policy development. 

    Examples of our services include: 

    • End-to-end project management 
    • Project partnerships with community agencies to safely and effectively engage with people from different population groups 
    • Planning, recruitment of consumers and facilitation of engagement processes including co-design processes, consultation workshops and surveys 
    • Stakeholder engagement  
    • Support for consumers including debriefing services 
    • Analysis of findings and reporting.   

    We support engagement efforts

    The Health Consumers Centre has a large network of over 2,000 highly engaged consumers and community members that we communicate with regularly. We know it can be challenging to find and recruit consumers that bring a diverse perspective to engagement opportunities that are planned. We can share engagement opportunities amongst our network to help you reach the people you need. 

    We can: 

    • Create consumer-friendly advertising assets 
    • Advertise opportunities 
    • Manage recruitment and selection processes 
    • Provide coaching support to build skills and enable successful engagement. 

    Our values

    We strongly align with the Institute for Health Transformation’s values which guide our actions:  

    Collaborative We believe relationships are foundational to our success and key to maximising the impact of our work.  

    Integrity We are honest and open in our work and how we deal with others. 

    Equity We recognise disparities exist and actively seek to improve health and wellbeing in those with greatest need. 

    Excellent We strive for excellence in all aspects of our work.  

    Inclusive We value diversity, embrace difference and seek to engage and welcome all.  

    Dynamic We are innovative and entrepreneurial, solving problems with creativity and flexibility. 

  • FAQs

    I want to learn more about consumer engagement, what resources do you available?

    Resources that were developed by the Health Issues Centre are still available. This includes templates, toolkits and guidance documents for both consumers and health organisations. These can be accessed via the Health Issues Centre website in the resources section.

    Why did the Health Issues Centre close?

    Health Issues Centre experienced significant vulnerabilities as a small not-for-profit organisation and was unable to be sustained in an increasingly constrained funding environment. The custodianship of the Deakin University Institute for Health Transformation provides a vehicle for the legacy of the Health Issues Centre to be carried forward and for essential work in consumer engagement to evolve and grow. 

    Will the Health Consumers Centre continue to be a resource for the health sector and not just the university sector? 

    The Health Consumers Centre will operate as the state peak body and its delivery of services across every part of the health sector. The Health Consumer Centre team will engage with health services, policy makers, research institutions and, most importantly, with the community and create a vibrant and sustainable future for consumer engagement in health in Victoria, together. We will also partner with other state, territory and national health consumer peaks to contribute to national health system transformation efforts. 

    I took part in opportunities with Health Issues Centre in the past, how can I engage with you on projects now? 

    The best way to stay in touch with us and find out about opportunities to work with us is by making sure you are signed up to our Consumers Connect newsletter. Sign up here. 

  • Contact us

    Phone: 03 9246 8764
    Email: healthconsumers@deakin.edu.au
    Address: Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood VIC 3125