Month: May 2024

Expression Of Interest Healthy Lifestyle Program Focus Group


Child and Adolescent Community Health (CACH) will be trialling a 12-month healthy lifestyle program in the East Metro region for families with children and young people affected by weight. This program will take place in the community.

We are looking for children and young people and their caregivers to let us know what’s important as we create this program.

What’s involved

The workshop will involve you and your child taking part in a focus group with up to a total of ten other families or young people.

We will ask you what your experiences of trying to access a healthier lifestyle have been, and what you think is needed in a program that wants to help families and young people achieve a healthier life.

Caregivers will be reimbursed $37.50 per hour for their time (2 hour minimum in person). Children and young people will be provided a voucher to the value of $75. Reasonable travel costs to attend the focus groups will also be funded, up to a maximum of $50 per person. Light refreshments will be provided.

We know that talking about this issue can be difficult. These workshops will be non-judgemental and blame free.

Who can attend

We are looking to talk to families with children and/or young people affected by weight who live in the East Metropolitan area.

To apply

Please contact Tania Harris at or call on 92213422. To be considered for the focus group, please provide:

  • Your personal contact details
  • A little bit about why you want to take part (your lived experience)
  • Your workshop preference:
    • An in-person focus group of children in pre-primary to Year 6 with their caregivers: 4pm-5:30pm, Thursday 13th June 2024, in Kenwick
    • An in-person focus group for young people in Year 7-10, and caregivers: 6pm-7:30pm, Thursday 13th June 2024, in Kenwick
    • An online focus group for caregivers: 10 – 12pm, Tuesday 11th June 2024
    • An online focus group for young people in Years 7-10: 6pm-7:30pm, Friday 14th June 2024

Unfortunately, due to there being 10 participants per group submitting an Expression of Interest does not guarantee a place in the group.
Please email your Expression of Interest to
Closing date for EOI’s Monday 10th June 2024.

Strengthening Reconciliation Post-The Voice Referendum: RAP and Acknowledgment of Country

By Tania Harris, Engagement Manager, Aboriginal and Disability Engagement Lead

Reconciliation in the Wake of The Voice Referendum

In the historical context shaped by The Voice referendum – a pivotal event proposing constitutional recognition and a parliamentary voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – an organisation’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) takes on an even greater significance.

  • The Voice referendum has brought the aspirations and needs of Indigenous Australians to the forefront of the national conversation.
  • As Australia reflects on the outcome of The Voice referendum, there’s an energised call for organisations to embed Indigenous perspectives into their core values.

The Role of a RAP Post-Referendum

Now, more than ever, a RAP must do justice to the momentum created by discussions around The Voice referendum. This involves not just planning but also taking action that symbolises respect, empowerment, and partnership.

  • An organisation’s RAP should go beyond ceremonial acknowledgment to lay down practical pathways for Indigenous inclusion and engagement.
  • Crafting a RAP in this climate should reflect a commitment to listening to Indigenous voices and upholding their rightful place in decision-making processes.

Crafting an Acknowledgment of Country That Resonates

An Acknowledgment of Country becomes particularly resonant in the post-referendum setting, where it’s expected to echo the progress and promises of national reconciliation efforts.

  • It is crucial to not only acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land but to connect this acknowledgment to contemporary initiatives like The Voice referendum.
  • Organisations can demonstrate their support for The Voice by referencing the initiative in their Acknowledgments of Country, reinforcing their commitment to actionable change.

Aligning Your RAP with The Voice Aspirations

Incorporating The Voice aspirations into your RAP not only strengthens your organisation’s dedication to reconciliation but also aligns with the broader objectives of national unity and respect.

  • Ensure that your RAP reflects an understanding of the historical and cultural significance of constitutional recognition and representation.
  • Utilise the RAP as a platform to advocate for and support the ongoing dialogue around Indigenous issues sparked by The Voice referendum.

A New Era of Commitment

The post-referendum era demands a renewed dedication to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and recognition. This commitment is tangibly expressed through a RAP, Acknowledgment of Country, and the actions that flow from these intentions.

Advance Reconciliation: Acknowledging Country Workshops

In the spirit of The Voice referendum, aspiring to a future where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are heard and respected, we invite you to attend Health Consumers’ Council’s  Acknowledging Country workshop. Your participation not only deepens your own understanding but also contributes to Indigenous health initiatives.

Join a workshop to ensure your organisation’s practices are attuned to the aspirations of The Voice and contribute to a reconciled, informed, and inclusive Australia.

Navigating the Path Together: Insights from the Cancer Services Plan Consultation Report

Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is more than a medical journey; it can be the start of a challenging path through the complex maze of healthcare systems, at a time of physical and emotional change for both the person diagnosed and those around them. The Department of Health (DoH) recognised the need to understand the experiences of those at the heart of cancer services — patients and their carers. The Department of Health partnered with the Health Consumers’ Council (HCC) to gather insights that will help inform the future of cancer care in WA.

We are pleased to be able to share this report with you. We would like to thank the patients, consumers and carers who chose to share their stories and experiences with us so generously.

We would also like to thank Dr Susannah Morris, who provided our team with expert advice and support, and offered an invaluable consumer focused insight into this and many other cancer projects in WA and Australia. We also recognise and thank Susannah for her considerable input into this report.

The Essence of Consultation

The consultations held in March and April 2024 were vibrant discussions filled with stories, challenges, and aspirations. A diverse group of 32 individuals participated in workshops and interviews to share their experiences with cancer care pathways in WA. The feedback gathered from these sessions was insightful and is hoped to have a significant impact on the enhancement of cancer services.

Themes of Reflections

Participants were open and candid about their interactions with cancer services. They reflected on the parts of their care that were difficult, and the aspects that were handled well. This feedback is crucial in understanding the emotional and practical needs of patients as they navigate cancer treatment.

Location, Location, Location

One of the critical areas of discussion was the configuration and location of care. Though the specifics of possible configurations were not directly presented for feedback, the need for flexibility and accessibility in care locations was a recurring theme. Wherever the location was, care needed to be centred around the person and their needs. This aspect of care is not only about geographical convenience but also about the comfort and peace of mind patients have when they know support is within reach.

The Experiences That Matter

Above and beyond the technicalities of treatment, what stood out in the consultations was the need for better care navigation and a more consistent and early linking of consumers and carers with all pertinent support services, to be treated as whole people not just a disease. Better communication, flexible appointment times, a more seamless and coordinated care experience, care navigators and navigation tools were among the top suggestions from participants.

Aligning with the WA Cancer Plan

As the consultations revealed, there’s an essential need to ensure that cancer services in WA are aligned with the second goal of the WA Cancer Plan 202-2025: to ensure that consumers have the best experience of cancer care. This implies that optimal care should be person-centred, safe, high-quality, multidisciplinary, supportive, and well-coordinated. People were also concerned that they ‘lived well’ with and beyond their diagnos, in keeping with priority three of the plan. The consultations highlighted that while much has been achieved, there are still gaps that need bridging.

 Looking Ahead

The Australian Government’s Australian Cancer Plan (2023-2033) has set a new backdrop for the continuum of cancer service delivery. The findings from the WA consultations will not only contribute to refining the state’s approach but also ensure that the voices of consumers are heard in the broader national context.

The Cancer Services Plan Consultation Report provides a snapshot of current consumer experiences with cancer services in WA. It’s a living document that echoes the voices of those most affected by cancer and offers a roadmap for improvements that could significantly enhance the patient journey.

Remember that as we look toward the future, your voice and your experiences are powerful catalysts for change. If you or a loved one have navigated the cancer care system, consider sharing your story. It’s through these shared experiences that we can work together to shape a cancer service system that not only heals but also supports and empowers every step of the way. You can share your stories and experiences at  Care Opinion, a platform supported by WA Health where you can remain anonymous.

The Importance of Acknowledging Country

By Tania Harris, Engagement Manager, Aboriginal and Disability Engagement Lead

An Acknowledgement of Country is a sign of respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ ongoing connection to their traditional lands. In healthcare settings, this practice becomes profoundly significant. Many organisations, individuals and businesses are increasingly recognising that a genuine Acknowledgement of Country can pave the way for better services and relationships with Indigenous communities.

  • An Acknowledgement of Country is not just a statement; it’s a commitment to listen, learn, and work towards equity and reconciliation.
  • It acknowledges Australia’s history, predating colonisation by tens of thousands of years.

Why Acknowledge Country?

Cultural competence and respect are crucial in providing quality care and services to all. An Acknowledgement of Country is a step towards cultural safety in services, recognising the specific place Indigenous Australians hold in our country and society.

  • It’s a reminder that every day, organisations and businesses operate on land that holds thousands of years of Indigenous history.
  • For staff and clients, the acknowledgment can foster an environment of inclusiveness, respect, and partnership.

The Impact of Acknowledgment on Indigenous Communities

While an Acknowledgement of Country is not a singular solution to inequity and racism, it is an integral part of the journey towards genuine partnership and inclusion.

  • It’s an opportunity to reflect on the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal communities and our commitment to addressing inequities.
  • It can contribute to an environment where Indigenous voices are heard and valued, especially in discussing needs and services.

How Organisations Can Offer a Meaningful Acknowledgement

Health Consumers’ Council acknowledges the need for confidence and personalisation in delivering an Acknowledgement of Country. That’s why we offer specialised training sessions.

  • It’s crucial to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land and pay respect to Elders, past, present, and emerging.
  • Workshops are designed to provide a safe, immersive experience with opportunities for practice and immediate feedback.
  • The training can be delivered online or in person, emphasising meaningful engagement rather than tokenistic gestures.

Offering More Than Words

The practice of giving an Acknowledgement of Country must go beyond being a part of housekeeping; it should reflect ongoing learning and action.

  • Acknowledgments should not be tokenistic but done with thought and consideration for what they represent.
  • They should inspire self-reflection, truth-telling, anti-racism efforts, and genuine partnership.
  • An Acknowledgement of Country reflects the values and commitment of your organisation to our shared history and the present-day situation.

Continuing the Journey

The journey toward true reconciliation and cultural safety is continuous. The Acknowledging Country workshops by Health Consumers’ Council are part of this journey, empowering individuals and organisations to make their Acknowledgments with confidence and sincerity.

Acknowledging Country Workshops

Does your organisation offer an Acknowledgement of Country at meetings and events? Are there ways you can make these acknowledgments more meaningful and reflective of your commitment to reconciliation? Take part in Health Consumers’ Council’s Acknowledging Country workshop to deepen your understanding and practice.

Take the next step in your reconciliation journey by booking an Acknowledging Country workshop and develop a meaningful practice that respects the traditional custodians of the land on which you live and work.

Opinion: It’s time for full transparency on who’s making money out of our healthcare

By Clare Mullen, Executive Director

So, there’s a few spats going on on social media at the moment in relation to health finance. Like on this post on LinkedIn where people representing surgeons, and people representing private health insurers, seem to me to be arguing about which one of them is going to charge the patient for the cost of surgical items.

So – it’s Saturday morning, and I have a bit of time, so I thought I’d try to see what some of these interests might be.

First up – the average salary of a surgeon

I couldn’t find any publicly funded sources of information from my quick search. But this article from Medrecruit (a medical recruitment firm) say they’ve used Australian Tax Office data to come up with an average taxable salary of $394,000 a year. The same company writes that neurosurgeons – like those who do spine surgery – can earn up to $800,000 a year.

So, between the 2023 article from Medrecruit, and a 2023 article from GlassDoor I feel comfortable reaching the conclusion that:

  • the average salary of a surgeon in Australia is around $340,000/year

Then to health insurer profits

The five biggest health insurance companies in Australia, according to the national consumer group Choice Australia are:

  • Medibank
  • Bupa
  • HCF
  • NIB
  • HBF

So I looked at the most recent annual reports (for 2023) for all of these companies. Some headlines:

  • Four of these five companies reported multi-million dollar profits last year – the exception is HBF who reported a loss of $87.7m, down from a loss last year too.
  • The average annual profit reported across the four was $344m/year.
  • Collectively, they reported profits of $1.3b.
  • Two of these five are set up as not-for-profit organisations – HCF (profit of $171.4m) and HBF

And so to the salaries of senior staff in health insurance firms…

I looked at what private health insurers pay their senior staff. (As a passing observation, if I didn’t know better I’d say that these firms don’t want you to work out what their senior staff get paid, because many of the reports make this information as opaque as possible. But I do know better. Except for HCF – they *really* don’t want you to know so they don’t publish it.)

Taking out HCF (because they don’t make that information available online), the average pay for the Chief Executive of the three other health insurance firms that reported a profit (or surplus) is $1.6m a year. Graph showing the comparison between the pays of health insurance CEOs, surgeons, and average earnings in Australia

As a comparison, the average for adult full-time earnings in Australia is $101,000/year. When you do a comparison that includes all earners (i.e. including those working part-time), the average annual salary is $74,500.

(And the CEO at HBF is reported as having been paid $731k to June 2023.)

So what?

So what does this mean? Is this just me whingeing about people who work hard to earn their money?

Nope. This is me trying to reconcile the reality of healthcare in this country. Where your socio-economic status determines your health, but where we’re seeing more outrage about which bit of the health system that’s making lots of money for the companies and people involved in providing that healthcare is going to pass on the cost of that healthcare to the people needing the healthcare.

It’s time for full transparency in health finances

As an informed health consumer, I find it really frustrating how challenging it is to find out about the financial interests in health. I want to know if the person or company providing me with care is doing it for my benefit, or for theirs.

This website from the Federal Government is a good start to find out about likely out of pocket costs for treatment you might be considering –

And as someone who speaks regularly to people who are battling to get access to the healthcare they need – either having to overcome financial challenges, or grapple with bureaucratic processes that seem to have been designed by people who don’t give a fig about the people trying to access healthcare (which I know isn’t true!) – I want to see a much stronger voice for consumers and the community on this issue.

So let’s have full transparency on health finances. A few ideas off the top of my head on this Saturday morning:

  • If any healthcare provider receives any public funding (like Medicare), let’s require them to publish information about profits, and any individual salaries over the average annual salary
  • If any provider negotiates financial deals – like commission to preferred providers, or incentives for particular types of treatment – let’s require this to be published, and the information be made available to the consumer when they’re making a decision about treatment options
  • Along with the Choosing Wisely questions, let’s add a question about “What are the financial implications for you – the provider – in any of the options we’re discussing?”