We need to hear from more men to make the health system better for everyone.
Men do not use health services as much as women. Why?
Some people think that us because "men don’t like to talk about their problems". Maybe, but as anyone who has been to a Mr Perfect event or similar groups and initiatives probably understands this is not strictly true.
It could be that men's health services are not inherently geared to best support men.
The NSW Men’s Health Framework talks about the need to make health services more friendly and accessible to men and boys. That sounds great but how do we make it happen? The simplest way is to listen to men in their local communities and find out what is important to them.
Health services across the country are reaching out to patients, former patients, and their families to find out more about their experience of being unwell and using health services. The aim is to bring some people, usually called health consumer representatives, into organisations' decision-making structures and processes.
What do health consumer representatives do?
Health consumer representatives get involved in projects, committees, workshops and boards within health services and provide feedback and direction on how things can be done better and what the community needs. They work with health services, such as local hospitals, community health centres, or government health agencies, to provide feedback about how things can be done better and what the community needs.
Projects to get involved in can be small – like taking part in a survey, or big – like playing a crucial role in the design of building a whole new hospital or creating a new health service for your community.
As one of our health consumer representatives, Brad Rossiter OAM, says: “I am not trying to "change the system". I listen to consumers and I will provide feedback to make the health system we have the best it can be for everyone".
What do men bring to the conversation?
This is all fantastic but there are fewer men than women involved in these processes. This can mean services are making decisions without necessarily hearing about the experiences and perspectives of local men. Without the involvement of more men there’s a real danger that health services will become increasingly irrelevant to men and boys.
If you are a regular at a Mr Perfect BBQ or forum then you are in a great position to make a difference. Listening to other men’s experiences means you already have a good understanding of what is important to local men, when it comes to their health and wellbeing.
How do I become a health consumer representative?
You may want to make sure that health services are aware of men’s health issues, or there might be other "causes" and experiences you want services to know about. John Leyden became a health consumer rep and joined our Board after caring for his sister Kate: “It was my journey managing and supporting my late sister Kate during her time with a pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer that inspired me".
For health consumer rep Dianne Nyoni, it is simple: “I care for my community,” is her motto.
Dianne Nyoni, a health consumer representative with South East Sydney’s Local Health District.
Either way, we are here to help you if you are based in NSW. If you live in a different State, there are organisations just like ours, that can connect you with interested health services.
If you would like to know about options to join a project as well as network with other health consumer representatives, we suggest you become a member of Health Consumer NSW. Membership is free and we will send you our regular newsletters and training program to make the most out of your advocacy work.
What are you waiting for? Come join us in making healthcare better for all in NSW!
Brad Rossiter OAM, a health consumer representative in NSW’s Eurobodalla Shire.
Who are we?
Health Consumers NSW is the peak organisation and advocacy body for health service users in NSW. We are a not-for-profit organisation and a registered health promotion charity.
Our vision is to create a NSW healthcare system, where communities and individuals shape the services they need and want in partnership with health providers.
Our mission is to empower health consumers – whether they are individuals or part of a consumer group or organisation – to lead and drive better health outcomes for themselves and their communities.
We provide a voice for patients, their family members and carers, patient leaders and health consumer representatives in NSW, as well as health consumer organisations representing specific disease and population groups.
Become an individual member (it’s free!)
If you are interested in becoming involved as a health consumer rep in other States, here the websites of our sister-organisations: