Elevating consumer voices – consumer participation in practice

The Consumer Participation and Lived Experience Project commenced operation in February 2021. The project aims to elevate consumer (service user and carer) voices and prioritise their feedback in the AOD treatment planning process. Working alongside a dedicated group of consumer representatives and peer researchers, practitioners have:

  • Implemented a participatory action research model to consult with consumers about their experiences navigating the AOD sector
  • Analysed their feedback
  • Drafted recommendations based on the findings and advocated for change in support of enhanced consumer participation

This presentation will provide a detailed overview of our key learnings and challenges while raising questions about what constitutes meaningful consumer participation, its implications for advocacy and service improvement, and whether such an approach is sustainable (against a backdrop of continual and escalating sector reform).


John Quiroga, AOD Health Services Planner (catchment-based planner), North and West Metro Alcohol and Other Drug Service

Since 2018 John has worked as an AOD Health Services Planner for Melbourne’s North and West metropolitan region, engaging multiple stakeholders to identify service gaps and treatment barriers. He has a keen interest in co-design approaches and is passionate about making the AOD treatment system more accessible and consumer friendly.

Roland van Olphen, Consumer Consultant, Uniting

Roland has been part of this project since its inception, supporting it as a member of the Reference Group. For the past 2 years, he has also undertaken various other Consumer Consultant roles at Uniting, sharing his experiences with other consumers, staff and the wider community.

Candice Folkard, Research assistant – NAHMSU (National Addiction and Mental Health Surveillance Unit)

With an academic background in psychology and working in AOD research, Candice is passionate about advocating for and giving AOD consumers a voice. She comes to the project as a Consumer Consultant and Peer Researcher with the lived experience of supporting loved ones dealing with problematic AOD use.


Click here to view the Presentation Slides