‘… Involving the community in decision making about their own health, as well as the planning and management of health services is integral to effective health promotion and illness prevention…’
Better Health Outcomes for Australians, 1994,
Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health

For well over a decade now, health bureaucracies and services in Australia and around the world have acknowledged the value of consumer input to service planning, operations and evaluation. Governments around Australia now recognise consumer participation as an essential component of quality health care.

Unfortunately, for too long now many drug treatment service providers have looked on from the sidelines at the developments in involving communities and consumers in the planning and delivery of services.

This innovative project represents a great collaboration between an important national research centre of excellence and AIVL as the peak organisation representing drug users and drug user groups from around the country. Without doubt the findings and recommendations of this study represent a significant contribution to the development of improved strategies for consumer involvement with alcohol and other drug service providers.

We know that people who use drugs illicitly experience widespread discrimination within the health system. This level of discrimination actively reduces the effectiveness of treatment services and acts as a barrier to health care. If drug treatment services around Australia can rise to the challenge of knvolving consumers in service planning and delivery, as well as seeing these consumers as legitimate participants in their own health care, then we will see significant improvements in the efficacy of treatment and the quality of life for all Australians.

This report is now available (PDF, 1 MB)