The framework is designed to assist individuals and committees involved in consultative and decision-making processes in analysing policies, grant applications and initiatives presented to them for consideration. It has a particular focus on access and disadvantage, setting out a series of steps which can be followed to assess the degree to which a proposal has been designed with the needs of disadvantaged groups and individuals in mind.
The framework provides a useful tool for identifying gaps in the development of programs where the needs of disadvantaged groups might not have received due consideration. It is not designed to measure or evaluate the success of a program in its application.
Food guidelines are sets of rules designed to assist all Australians consume a diet that is conducive to a healthy life. However, given the cultural diversity of Australia, are our food guidelines culturally appropriate? The short answer is no. From the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001 Census we know that 23% of Australians are born overseas, 15% do not speak English at home and 8% practice a religion other than Christianity. The cultural diversity of Australia spans over 200 different cultural backgrounds, 170 languages and 100 different faiths.1 Each group has its own food patterns with extra depths of complexity provided by the migration experience itself, intermarriage, the availability and different status values of foods and the adoption of ‘Australian’ eating patterns. Given this diversity it is perhaps time to consider whether food guidelines are meeting the needs of the whole of the Australian population.
The Aim of this Guide is to provide advice to national community organisations, foundations and associations to use when coordinating, planning and conducting workshops with local community organisations on health topics or issues.
Community workshops are a commonly used technique for raising consumer awareness of a health topic or issue, facilitating the learning of new information and skills and encouraging behaviour change.
The Guide provides practical tips and advice on running successful workshops. By this we mean workshops that consumers will enjoy; that will help build the capacity of local communities to deal with health issues; and that will help equip consumers to exercise more control over their own health, make choices conducive to health and cope with illness, injury or disability.
Professional and industry groups and so called ‘independent experts’ are frequently asked for their advice and views on matters relating to the health of the community and individuals. Community and ‘lay’ people are also sometimes asked to offer their experience to consider matters of public interest in the health arena, such as priorities in resource allocation or the ethics of health services or research. Increasingly government and others are recognizing the need to hear also about the specific interests of consumers in a range of health and community issues. Often, however, the consumer perspective is forgotten or it is assumed that, since ‘we are all consumers’ it will be well represented by caring providers or those active in the community affairs.
This article gives some ideas about improving our effectiveness as consumer representatives.