The extent to which consumers are involved at the 'coalface' level of service delivery, where they have opportunities to influence the services they receive, is an important indicator of whether the National Mental Health Strategy has made a difference for consumers.
The principle of consumer participation in local services is reflected in the National Standards for Mental Health Services (National Standards). The National Standards set expectations that each service will involve consumers in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services, and that consumers will be active participants in the assessment and treatment planning that directly affects them. All states and territories are committed to full implementation of the Standards within the services under their control.
The annual data collection reported by states and territories has provided the means to monitor trends in the type of local arrangements in place for consumers to contribute to service planning and delivery. As in previous years, the 2010‑11 collection required each organisation to describe its structural arrangements for involving consumers. Analysis of the survey data assigns each organisation into one of four levels, ranging from Level 1 (agencies where consumers were given a formal place in the local executive decision making structures or where a specific consumer group had been established to advise on all aspects of service delivery) to Level 4 (agencies with no specific arrangements for consumer participation).
The results for 2010‑11 are shown in Figure 40 and compared with the situations at the beginning of the National Mental Health Strategy, and at the end of the Second and Third National Mental Health Plans. They illustrate the considerable progress made over the first 10‑year period. Between 1993‑94 and 2002‑03, the proportion of organisations with some formal mechanism in place for consumer participation (Levels 1 to 3) increased from 53% to 82%. However, the data also reveal that, at the national summary level, little advance has been made since then.
Eighteen years into national mental health reform, about half of Australia's mental health service organisations have consumer representation at the higher level (Level 1). One quarter remain without any basic structural arrangements for consumer participation.
Figure 40: Consumer committee representation within mental health service organisations, 1993-94 to 2010-11a
a Level 1: Formal position(s) for consumers exist on the organisation’s management committee for the appointment of person(s) to represent the interests of consumers. Alternatively, specific consumer advisory committee(s) exists to advise on all relevant mental health services managed by the organisation.
Level 2: Specific consumer advisory committee(s) exists to advise on some but not all relevant mental health services managed by the organisation.
Level 3: Consumers participate on a broadly based advisory committee that includes a mixture of organisations and groups representing a wide range of interests.
Level 4: Consumers are not represented on any advisory committee but are encouraged to meet with senior representatives of the organisation as required. Alternatively, no specific arrangements exist for consumer participation in planning and evaluation of services.
Text version of figure 40
|1993-94 (%)||2002-03 (%)||2007-08 (%)||2010-11 (%)|