Consumer, family and carer participation

Community engagement is a key principle underpinning the government’s ten-year strategic policy, Mental Health 2020: Making it personal and everybody’s business. The Western Australian Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Services Plan 2015-2025 also recognises the importance of community engagement and the need to support consumers, families, and carers to be fully involved in co-planning, co-designing, co-delivery and co-reviewing policies and services.

The Commission recognises that consumers, their families, carers and community members are to be engaged as genuine partners at individual, service, system and strategic levels across Western Australia.

The Commission engages people across a variety of activities including:

  • Committees (steering, advisory, reference, working groups etc.);
  • Consultations, forums, focus groups and workshops;
  • Selection and recruitment panels; and
  • Special projects.

The Mental Health Commission has a policy which affirms the commitment of the MHC to working with consumers, families and carers.  The MHC policy enables remuneration to be offered to consumers, families and carers for their participation in MHC activities.

Community Alcohol and Drugs (CADS) & Next Step Consumer Committee

The Mental Health Commission’s AOD treatment service, Next Step Drug and Alcohol Service, partners with non-government AOD agencies including Mission Australia, Palmerston, Cyrenian and Holyoake, to deliver Integrated Services for AOD clients throughout the metropolitan Community Alcohol and Drug Services (CADS). A key governance committee of the Integrated Services is the Integrated Services Consumer Committee (ISCC). The ISCC is co-chaired by a Consumer Advisor and includes consumer representatives from across the Integrated Services. The committee functions to ensure that Integrated Services are responsive to consumer needs by actively engaging with consumers and encouraging effective consumer participation in service development and delivery. In this regard the consumer committee provides input on issues such as policy, planning, implementation, workforce development, evaluation and service delivery activities that affect the lives of AOD consumers.

To find out more about the Integrated Service Consumer Committee you can:

AOD Consumer Representative Training

To support consumers of alcohol and other drug services within the CADS and Next Step, the Integrated Services Consumer Committee co-designed, developed and delivers training for consumers who are new to engagement and participation with services.

The one day free training supports consumers to

  • understand the role and responsibilities of a consumer representative
  • understand the integrated services and the various partnerships that facilitate them, as well as the services broadly available within the alcohol and other drug sector
  • learn about dealing with stigma and triggers that may arise in the course of consumer engagement and participation
  • learn about the type of participation and engagement that consumers representatives may be involved in as well as how to be prepared
  • learn about future opportunities for consumers who want to be more engaged and aspire to be future consumer advisors, as well as how to respond to expressions of interest

The training is open to all CADS and Next Step consumers who want to increase their skills and knowledge about consumer engagement. To find out more about the training and when the next session is being run please email

 The Commission collaborates with organisations including Consumers of Mental Health WACarers WA, Helping MindsMental Health Matters 2Peer Based Harm Reduction WA (formerly known as WASUA)Health Consumers Council WA and Western Australian Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies in the development of policy and best practice. The Commission has developed a Statewide Consumer, Family and Carer Engagement Framework with key stakeholders that will outline best practice principles and practices in relation to consumer, family and carer involvement in the mental health and alcohol and other drugs sectors.

National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum Representation

The National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF) is the combined national voice for consumers and carers participating in the development of mental health policy and sector development in Australia. Through its membership, the NMHCCF gives mental health consumers and carers the opportunity to meet, form partnerships and be involved in the development and implementation of mental health reform. 

Western Australian NMHCCF representatives’ Ms Lorraine Powell and Ms Hayley Solich are supported in their roles by the Mental Health Commission, Consumers for Mental Health WA, Helping Minds, Carers WA, and Mental Health Matters 2. More information about the work of the NMHCCF, including a list of representatives and how they can be contacted can be found here.

Mental Health Australia

Mental Health Australia maintains a National Register of 60 trained mental health consumer and carer representatives from across Australia, who work at a national level to provide a strong consumer and carer voice in the mental health sector. Members of the National Register use their lived experience, knowledge of the mental health system and communication skills to advocate and promote the issues and concerns of mental health consumers and carers. There are a number of National Register members in Western Australia; their profiles can be found here. More information about the National Register and how to contact them can be found here.

Become an Associate of the MHC

Types of participation may include:

  • Provision of input to or feedback on specific issues or initiatives;
  • Co-chair or member of a committee or panel;
  • Writing, reviewing or evaluating reports, resources or articles, brochures, or newsletters;
  • Designing and facilitating a discussion group, activity or event;
  • Presenting as a guest speaker to provide consumer, family or carer perspective;
  • Participating in a local consumer consultation group;
  • Researching, consulting and networking with others to gain a wider or better understanding of the issue at hand; and
  • Working with the Commission to co-design and co-produce an activity or project.

To get involved, please fill in the form below.

We will provide you with regular updates about the Mental Health Commission and let you know of opportunities for engagement in the mental health, alcohol and other drug sector.

Your participation will help shape our State's future.

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