Last month, the CHF Colloquium saw 90 carers and consumers of Australia’s health system look to the future of advocacy in a reformed and changing health environment, including NDIS.
People with lived experience provide a unique opportunity for better service design – service design delivered in a way which can be more readily consumed. There is a broad consensus that lived experience of users is the most effective way to design, as users can best express how they wish to interact with the service, whether face-to-face, online or otherwise.
Advocates are often there to:
- Stand up for people who aren’t getting access to the system in the right way or can’t get provision of services they’re entitled to,
- Help consumers of services understand what they’re entitled to and navigate the processes,
- Engage with consumers and carers to work out what could be improved – what’s lacking in a particular area, what’s lacking in service delivery, or what’s oversupplied: enhance, reduce, create, eliminate.
The Role of Advocacy is Changing
With that background in mind, the Colloquium gathered 90 organisations together, recognising that given the changes in the health system and incursion of digital technologies, the role of advocacy is changing. The government has drastically altered the way it’s funding advocacy, and many organisations are now concerned with how they will stay operational if they’re dependent on programmatic funding – especially under the NDIS, where advocacy work has been significantly transformed. The Colloquium pooled people together to create a broader network, with the aim being to:
- Co-design potential activities to reinforce their value to both consumers and to government,
- Figure out how to operate more efficiently, reducing timewaste and rework,
- Co-ordinate their message for greater impact with government.
Government representatives also attended the session, ostensibly to hear these views towards becoming more conscious of the value of advocacy, but also to help design how they were going to approach funding in accordance with the outcomes of the Colloquium.
Connecting People, Consolidating Voices
It was a really interesting session. From an advocacy perspective, we saw a reaffirmation of the value in advocacy (which, to be fair you would expect from a room of 90 advocates!). A particular challenge which became apparent was that there wasn’t a clear vision as to what should be new and different in the area of advocacy or how the attendees could arrive at different offerings. Having said that, there was a willingness to collaborate, to connect and to continue working towards redesigning services.
The great success of the Colloquium was, in a nutshell, connecting people. Consolidating voices and gaining a perspective on the need for a new value proposition regarding advocacy in the digital, programmatically changed and post-NDIS health domains.
As facilitator of this new network, the CHF is increasing in relevance to these advocates. They’re looking to create the platforms and be a secretariat to the group, to consolidate a voice on these issues, to lobby and research how to create that critical mass. For the advocates, and the community at large, the direct benefits are not yet visible yet. However, in a reduced funding environment, the only way they’re going to survive is to act together.