What is a consumer representative?

A consumer representative is a member of a government, professional body, industry or non-governmental organisation committee who voices consumer perspectives and takes part in the decision-making process on behalf of consumers. This person is nominated by, and is accountable to, an organisation of consumers.

What is the role of a consumer representative?

The role of a consumer representative is to provide a consumer perspective. This often differs from a bureaucratic, service provider, industry, academic or professional perspective. The role of the consumer representative involves:

  • Protecting the interests of consumers, service users and potential service users
  • Presenting how consumers may think and feel about certain issues
  • Contributing consumer experiences
  • Ensuring the committee recognises consumer concerns
  • Reporting the activities of the committee to consumers
  • Ensuring accountability to consumers
  • Acting as a watchdog on issues affecting consumers
  • Providing information about any relevant issues affecting consumers

Limits to the role of a consumer representative

A committee should not expect the consumer representative to:

  • Have a technical background in the subject under discussion. The consumer representative provides consumer perspectives on an issue. Most consumers are not technical experts in medicine or research but have legitimate interests in it.
  • Undertake consumer consultations beyond what is required to inform their own input at the meeting or to ensure their own accountability to their constituency. If wider consumer consultation is required, the consumer representative can advise the committee on how this might be achieved but should not undertake the work themselves. CHF should be made aware of any such requests to consumer representatives.
  • Speak for CHF. The consumer representative represents consumers, not CHF as an organisation. Only the Chairperson and the Chief Executive Officer are authorised to speak publicly for CHF.