Health consumers share their lived experience in a roundtable with the Minister for Health & Aged Care

CEO Update from Consumer Roundtable with Minister Butler in Sydney

One of CHF’s main roles is to amplify consumers’ voices so they can be heard amongst the many well-funded vested interests in the health sector.

Yesterday, CHF had the pleasure of hosting a face-to-face discussion between five amazing consumers and Health Minister Mark Butler who acknowledged that power imbalance and took genuine interest in the real-life stories relayed by consumers.

Those consumers were Justan Singh (from Sydney), Kelly Foran (Glen Innes, NSW), Jordan van Rosmalen (Coolangatta, QLD), Shivana Chandra and Karin Calford (ACT).


A group of health consumers meeting with the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Mark Butler
Caption Text: 
Featured left to right: Shivana Chandra, Emma Sayers, Kelly Foran, Karin Calford, Dr Elizabeth Deveny, Jordan van Rosmalen, Justan Singh and Minister Butler




Other than Justan, who lives with Crohn's disease and advocates for people with chronic disease, all the other consumers were nominated by our members, the state peak consumer bodies in Queensland, NSW and ACT.

Kelly, whose family founded Friendly Faces Helping Hands, to help rural patients access practical information and support with hospitalisation, spoke about the grassroots support needed by rural communities, often provided by community nurses especially when GPs and hospitals are not easily accessible.

Jordan, who represents consumers on various Queensland committees, spoke about a family member’s experience with the mental health system, and the difficulty navigating the various points of care including pharmacy, primary care and specialists.

One example she quoted involved a $600 cost to replace a prescription lost by a pharmacy requiring urgent visits to a GP and Psychiatrist - a massive expense for someone on a pension.

Shivana also spoke about difficulties in accessing mental health and allied health professionals, as well as equity issues for people from CALD communities who were under-represented in medical research and health system navigation.

Karin told of her difficulty securing a GP appointment while in crippling pain from what turned out to be appendicitis. Help from HealthDirect was positive but once admitted to hospital it took three days before she was operated on.

She said system navigation, communication with patients and health literacy were major issues for consumers, many of whom were both patients and carers.

All these real-life stories demonstrate some of the daily difficulties consumers face and while all acknowledged the government’s actions on health reform, there is so much more to be done.

More grassroots funding for community-based education and support, a greater focus on promoting prevention and improving health literacy, as well as building the capability of consumers such as those who attended yesterday’s discussion, were some of the solutions suggested.

Look out for some of CHF’s social media posts in coming weeks when you will hear from these consumers in their own words about what they got out of this meeting with the Minister.

I would like to thank Justan, Kelly, Jordan, Shivana and Karin once again for contributing their time and lived experience, the Minister and his Senior Advisor Jamie Snashall for meeting with us, as well as CHF team members Melissa Le Mesurier (Director Advocacy & Engagement) and Emma Sayers (Engagement Manager) who organised the roundtable.

Dr Elizabeth Deveny
Chief Executive Officer