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Community to have their say about a more inclusive and responsive health system

The South Australian Health Minister, Chris Picton, today launched a new initiative to be led by South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS), that will support more equitable, active community engagement and participation in South Australia’s healthcare system.

Ross Womersley, CEO of SACOSS, said:

“An accessible, inclusive health system is fundamental to everyone’s ability to live healthy lives. We are delighted the Malinauskus Government has committed this funding and we appreciate the Health Minister’s personal interest in ensuring our health system really does work for everybody. With the working title, ‘People’s Health Voice’, this is a unique opportunity to ensure that those groups of people in our community who currently don’t always get the quality health care they need can be more closely involved in changing the health system for the better.

“SA has a long history of health advocacy and lived experience leadership, and this new People’s Health Voice mechanism will build on this capacity and apply an equity and diversity lens.

“With the closure of the Health Consumers’ Alliance SA, big gaps were left in state-wide health advocacy. This important but modest new investment won’t fix all those gaps but it will ensure the voices of sections of our community who might currently get overlooked will have a way to articulate their suggestions to improve the health system, based on their direct experience. We’re excited that the People’s Health Voice will actively engage with and support communities of people who are currently marginalized from interacting with the array of health networks, agencies and sectors that make up the SA health system.

Today’s launch was attended by health consumer advocates and representatives of organisations committed to improving healthcare access, quality and outcomes, through the inclusion of the voices of people who use our health system – especially those who don’t get great access or services.

Placing the issue of healthcare equity at the centre, this project will work with community interest groups to co-design an independent mechanism through which community concerns can inform health policy and service provision.

A focus on diverse and marginalized communities will ensure the mechanism includes people with lived experience of the challenges of accessing health services so that healthcare reform can become more responsive to their needs.

The project builds on research undertaken for SACOSS in 2022.

“An accessible, inclusive and responsive health system is fundamental to people being able to live healthy lives”, explained lead researcher Dr Toby Freeman (now at the Stretton Institute for Health Equity).

“Putting people’s voices at the centre of the conversation can improve the quality of care and the outcomes people experience, and they can identify issues before they become a problem for the emergency department at the local hospital”, Dr Freeman said.

Dr Freeman commented that “the project launched today will also support health consumers to become stronger advocates and amplify the voices of people that can otherwise get lost when they try to provide input into the complex, multi-layered health system.”

SACOSS CEO, Ross Womersley said “It also will be essential that the engagement mechanism that is established through this Project will be sustained over time, and that people from all walks of life will have opportunities to improve health access on an ongoing basis.”

A discussion paper can be found here.

And a policy proposal here.

Published Date: 
Friday, 3 March 2023