Frequently asked questions

Here are some frequently asked questions if you're considering becoming one of our consumer representatives.

What do we mean when we use the word consumer?

There are all types of people who use our services at CAHS. We serve children, young people, parents, siblings, carers and families in many ways when they visit us. We call all these people consumers.

Why does Child and Adolescent Health Service want to involve consumers in its work?

We recognise the valuable contribution that consumers make to improving how we plan, deliver and evaluate our services. Families who have used our services can offer us a new perspective on what we are doing well and where we could improve. 

What is a Consumer Representative?

A consumer who is recruited by the health service to formally provide a voice on behalf of consumers and participate in decision-making processes, by being: 

  • A member of a consumer or staff committee
  • A participant in a focus group or workshop
  • A panel member for recruiting staff at Child and Adolescent Health Service
  • Involved in developing and reviewing publications or policies 
  • A guest presenter or helping with staff training
  • Involved in a particular project or piece of work.

Who can become a Consumer Representative?

A consumer who has previously accessed (in the last five years), is currently accessing, or who is eligible to access CAHS services in the future.

How can I become a Consumer Representative?

We advertise for consumer representatives here. These opportunities are also promoted through our Facebook page and through networks of consumers who are known to us.   

You can also join our mailing list to receive information about new opportunities as they arise. Your contact details will only be accessed by our Engagement team and will not be shared without your permission. 

Can I apply for more than one committee?

Yes you can apply to become a Consumer Representative of as many committees that you have an interest in joining. Generally, you will have to make an application for each committee you want to join. This is because the information you provide in the 'About your experience' section of the application form should be relevant the ‘skills, experience and interests' criteria that were included in the position advertisement.

How are Consumer Representatives selected?

Sometimes consumers are directly invited to take part in an activity or project because they have specialised knowledge and experience. However, most Consumer Representative positions are advertised publicly.

Applications are reviewed by a panel of two or three people, usually including an existing Consumer Representative and Child and Adolescent Health Service staff members. Applicants are assessed and shortlisted against the ‘skills, experience and interests' criteria that were included in the position advertisement. An informal interview may also be required. The successful applicant is then contacted by phone or email and asked if they will accept the Consumer Representative role being offered to them. 

What is expected of me as a Consumer Representative?

You will be given orientation training to help you understand the role of a consumer representative. As a Consumer Representative, we will ask you to share your thoughts and ideas and tell us how we can make our services better for children, young people and families. This might include:

  • Developing guidelines for staff about how things should be done. 
  • Deciding what is on pamphlets and posters for consumers.
  • Working out how we can make services safer. 
  • Planning new services.
  • Improving services.
  • Being involved in training staff. 

Who will help me when I first start my role as Consumer Representative?

Consumer Representatives will be linked up with a staff member who is responsible for providing support and guidance. This will usually be the main contact person for any questions you might have.

Do Consumer Representatives just represent their own experience or consumers more broadly?

We understand that no one person can represent the views of all consumers, family and carers and you are not expected to. However, it is expected that consumer representatives have links with groups and communities that you can network and consult with.This could be a more formal network, an organisation, an online social group or an informal group of people. We ask you to think about a broad range of children, young people and parents when providing your input and feedback, so that we can ensure our services are meeting the needs of all consumers.

What would I need to do before starting as a Consumer Representative?

Most consumers will be asked to attend a short interview before being offered a role as a Consumer Representative.

Depending on the role, consumers may be asked to complete three checks before they can become a Consumer Representative:

  1. Criminal Record Screening 
  2. Health Assessment
  3. Working with Children Check

All three checks will be organised and paid for by CAHS.

Why am I expected to commit for a minimum term?

When you commit to a minimum term it provides you with an opportunity to become familiar with the role and function of that committee. It also gives you time to get to know other committee members which can make some people feel more comfortable to provide input. It can be easier to have meaningful input when you have been involved in past decisions and the discussions that led to that decision.

What happens if I am no longer able to commit to the committee?

We are always thankful for the time that consumers donate to our committees and understand that life changes and sometimes this means that you are no longer able to stay on the committee. In this instance it is important to speak with your point of contact to consider the following questions: 

  • Is there any way we can support you to continue?
  • Do you need to have a period of leave from the committee?
  • Is there a possibility of you re-joining the committee at a later stage?
  • Is there another way that you can be involved that better suits your circumstances? 

If you decide to leave the committee, we will advertise the vacancy to identify a new member to take your place, it is helpful to give as much notice as possible so there is time for this process to take place.

What participation payment is being offered?

A participation payment of $35 per hour is offered to all consumer representatives. 

Is the participation payment considered income or wages?

Consumer Representatives are generally considered to be volunteers by the Australian Tax Office. Participation payments are to cover out of pocket expenses for your involvement like parking, public transport etc. Find out more volunteers and taxation.

If I live far away, do I have to attend every meeting in person?

Each consumer representative opportunity is different but generally if you are unable to attend meetings in person, you can video-call in instead. 

Can I bring my Support Worker?

Your Support Worker is very welcome to support you while you are in your role as Consumer Representative. If you are joining a committee that is discussing confidential matters, your Support Worker may be asked to wait outside the meeting room while those discussions are taking place. 

What training and support can I access?

Child and Adolescent Health Service requires all Consumer Representatives to attend Consumer Representative Induction, within three months of starting the role. You can register here to attend one of the many inductions held throughout the year.

Consumer Representatives can also link in with the following organisations who can provide training and/or support to consumer representatives:

The Health Consumers Council of WA (HCC) 

HCC offers a range of free workshops to support people in becoming effective, engaged consumer representatives. Information about upcoming courses is available on the HCC website or by phoning 1800 620 780.

Carers Western Australia (Carers WA) 

Carers WA provide training and support for family and carer representatives. Information support and training and opportunities is available on the Carers WA website or by phoning 1300 227 377.

What about confidentiality?

Consumers, family and carers are bound by the same rules of confidentiality as employees and volunteers at Child and Adolescent Health Service. Consumer Representatives are asked to sign a Consumer Representative Confidentiality Agreement upon starting their role.

What if I just want to give feedback about Child and Adolescent Health Service?

If you have used one of our services and want to tell us about your experience, you can provide feedback here or at one of our sites, or write a post on the Care Opinion website.

You can also join the Engage Consumer Network to be invited to have your say about how we develop our services.

Last Updated: 05/04/2024