A fresh view of Shifting Gears from Croakey

After the scores of speakers and hundreds of conversations at CHF’s Shifting Gears Summit, reporting on the proceedings presents numerous opportunities.

CHF’s ejournal Health Voices provided articles from 15 of the contributors to the Summit.

Yet a comprehensive conference report by Croakey News Service now gives us a fresh and wider sense of this special virtual event. Croakey, which was commissioned to cover the conference for CHF, has provided a collection of comments and insights that gives a grasp of the absorbing range of ideas that bubbled up.

The report is a multimedia production that capitalises on the virtual platform, exploiting the status of the event as the first Australasian conference on health consumer leadership and experience. 

It comprises not only textual clips and summaries but also a collection of tweets and links to podcasts by Croakey Voices’ Cate Carrigan. And you can click to hear a sample of the singing from the wonderful Indigenous Kari choir who opened the conference with an inspiring Welcome to Country.

This report is all about the success stories and waypoints on the road to consumer-centred healthcare.

As Jennifer Doggett and her Croakey News Service colleagues report, after such a critical year in health, the place of consumers in Australia and NZ health systems is at a pivotal point. It is noteworthy that in the weeks following the Summit, NZ announced sweeping health reforms which included the establishment of the first-ever NZ consumer health forum.

The report covers a range of focal points for health consumers including:

  • Using social media to engage consumers in health service design and quality improvement
  • Navigating the road to consumer leadership in health
  • Driving consumer leadership and experience in health care

Posing the question of what our health systems would look like if consumers were in the driving seat, it mentions an important point made more than once at the conference: that we do have successful models arising from genuine consumer co-design, such as the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

The report records “10 Memorable Summit Quotes” that convey the quality and range of thinking that was shared.

“It’s now or never.” Vincent Dumez, Keynote speaker and co-director of the Centre of Excellence on Partnership with Patients and the Public at University of Montreal

“The health system needs to be shaken not stirred.” Louisa Walsh, Presenter, PhD candidate and consumer advocate

 “We have lived all, we hear all, we see all and we can influence all.” Kellie O’Callaghan, speaker and consumer advocate

 “Kindness is a meta value – you can’t be kind to others if you’re not being kind to yourself.” Ashley Bloomfield, speaker and New Zealand Director-General of Health

 “Not including consumers in healthcare is like throwing someone a birthday party and not inviting them.” Anne MacKenzie, Presenter and Community Engagement Manager, Telethon Kids Institute

 “Care cannot be safe unless it is culturally safe.” Jennifer Zelmer, Plenary presenter; President and CEO at Healthcare Excellence Canada

 “Community trust will be the oil of the future.” Kate Mulligan, Keynote speaker and Director of Policy and Communications at the Alliance for Healthier Communities, Ontario

 “Equity should be in the DNA of our health system.” Jeffrey Braithwaite, Speaker and Director, Australian Institute of Health Innovation

 “We may all be from the same cookie machine but we are all different cookies.” Mary Lynne Cochrane, Presenter and consumer advocate

 “Consumer engagement grows at the speed of trust.” Peter King, Presenter and consumer representative.

And no coverage of this new world conference would be complete without mention of some of the many hundreds of comments that went up on the chat column.

“Patient voice, patient choice.” – Gary Sutcliffe

“The patient will see you now’ takes on a broader meaning.” -- Jo Root

And among the 10 important statistics mentioned at the Summit was the figure cited by Professor Yvonne Zurynski: “Almost 50 per cent of Australians surveyed reported that fundamental changes are needed to make our health system work better.”

And what made the Summit all the more worthwhile were the many positive responses about features such as the Big Ideas event which presented six videos of innovative ideas for a better system from consumer activists.  An example was a chat comment from Shyamsundar Muthuramalingam: “Huge thanks to CHF to host Big Ideas, it shows what the grassroots consumers are capable of and how the policymakers are so wary of them.”

The Croakey Conference News Service provides skilled, independent, multimedia reporting of conferences and other events that are likely to be of interest or use to Croakey readers.

Croakey Health Media is an independent and social journalism project that enables debate and investigations of health issues and policy. 


About the author

Leanne Wells

Leanne Wells

Leanne was Chief Executive of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia from 2014 until August 2022