February 5, 2014
In February, representatives from various agencies in the west came together for the first Community Engagement in the West Meeting for 2014.
Community participation can be defined as the process by which the aspirations, concerns, needs and values of citizens and communities are incorporated in government, non-government and private sector decision making, planning service delivery and evaluation. This partnership process aims to make better decisions that are supported by the community and result in better outcomes for both the community and the agencies (WA Health 2007)
Recognising the value of community participation in health, HealthWest mapped consumer engagement activities in the west and assessed the needs of our members. Results demonstrated the need for peer support and networking to coordinate and collaborate on projects to support community participation and engagement across the west. Thus, the Community Engagement in the West Network was born.
Network meetings are held quarterly for workers in the west who have an interest in community participation and engagement to share information on current and upcoming community participation and engagement initiatives and activities, showcase good practice examples and provide peer support.
To kick off the meeting, Jeremy Hearne, Health Champions Project Leader Western Region Health Centre, presented on the Health Champions Project as an example of community engagement and participation in practice.
Health Champions is a jointly funded initiative of the State Government of Victoria and the Australian Government. Managed by Western Region Health Centre, the Health Champions initiative encourages everyday people to improve their health and to influence the health of their community and the people around them. Health Champions is delivered across 14 local government areas as part of the Healthy Together Victoria Initiative. Health Champions are trained and resourced to lead local community action and change in order to encourage and enhance healthy lifestyles.
The meeting continued with a discussion of updates on the two projects created through the the Community Engagement in the West Network:
The Western Consumer Network Project.
Formed by HealthWest, this working group brings together representatives from member organisations and community members for the planning, implementation and evaluation of the Western Consumer Network Project.
The project aims to encourage people from under-represented communities to participate in the west and to establish and to link trained community members to relevant opportunities. Prior to this, no such regional network forum existed in the west.
Members of the working group, Gabriele Laurin (Consumer representative) and Michael Barton (Project Officer, Western & Central Melbourne Integrated Cancer Service), presented on the Project updates.
Project Next steps;
- Develop message of community participation in the west (Video Case study)
- Create spaces and places to engage community (Community Events)
- Link community participation opportunity with community members (Bank/register of interest)
The Clearing House Project
Karen Steenbergen, Acting HP Manager / Consumer and Community Engagement Officer, ISIS Primary Care, then presented on the Clearing House project. The aim of the project was to provide a web-based repository for information sharing. The type of information would include community consultations with communities in the western suburbs of Melbourne undertaken by HealthWest member organisations.However, this will be put on hold for the moment, to prioritise for the delivery of the Western Consumer Network Project.
In summary, the Network meeting was an informative and eventful day. We encourage people to join the network in the future and participate in these important discussions around supporting community engagement and participation in the West.
More on community engagement…
If the above video of Jeremy’s presentation didn’t work, you can view it here.