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Building collaborative practice with consumers in rural and remote australia


Andrew Harvey

Western Health Alliance, AU
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A contemporary Australian health system must be characterised by partnerships with consumers. Partnering with consumers is about healthcare organisations, healthcare providers and policy makers actively working with consumers to ensure that health policy, information, systems and services meet their needs. Recognition of the need for a more active role for consumers in healthcare is gaining momentum.

Currently in Australia, emphasis is being given to the role consumers and communities can play in the governance of PHNs and local hospital networks, with some accompanying investment in recent years to provide governance training. However, there is a considerable way to go in harnessing the role consumers can play as agents of change in the health system. According to Alison Trimble, 2018 (King’s Fund, UK )“Consumers are renewable energy and the secret ingredient to transformational change within the health and care system”. Collaborative practice underpins co-design and is essential to implementing current health reforms in Australia.

The King’s Fund,(an independent charity in the UK) have developed a program Collaborative Pairs which is designed to support the development of the mindset and practices that underpin the culture of shared leadership and partnership and, specifically, joint clinician-consumer approaches to program and service development. The program consists of five one day sessions undertaken over a five month period to enable pairs to work on a shared work challenge in between sessions.

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia in collaboration with the Western Health Alliance (operating the Western New South Wales Primary Health Network (WNSW PHN)) and three other PHNS and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC)are implementing Collaborative Pairs as part of a National Demonstration Trial in Australia. As one of the largest rural and remote PHNs in Australia, Western NSW PHN is well placed to test the program in a rural and remote context.

This contribution will provide an overview of the Collaborative Pairs Program, the model being implemented in the National Demonstration Trial with a specific focus on Western NSW. The challenges and opportunities of delivering a world class innovative program in a remote location will be discussed as well as the need to build capacity of both consumer and clinical leaders to work together in rural and remote Australia. The importance of collaborative practice and the ways that it is being practiced, supported and integrated in Western NSW as compared to other more urban sites will also be discussed.

How to Cite: Harvey A. Building collaborative practice with consumers in rural and remote australia. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2019;19(4):217. DOI:
Published on 08 Aug 2019.


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