With almost a quarter of the population born overseas (speaking over 180 languages) in Victoria, consumer participation strategies need to recognise and address this diversity. Whilst there is a growing focus in the sector on consumer participation strategies, there is still a gap when it comes to facilitating participation from consumers from CALD backgrounds.
Conventional participation strategies such as Consumer Advisory Groups, surveys, focus groups and complaints processes are often not developed or implemented in a way that enables CALD service users participate effectively. In some instances, particular communities may not be accessing services as they are unfamiliar with the health care system and do not have enough knowledge about existing services.
Consumer participation strategies employed by health service providers then only capture the views of existing clients, compounding issues of access to services for communities. Valuable and effective consumer participation is dependent on both service providers and consumers having the necessary skills.
Staff require the skills to facilitate consumer participation in a way that is meaningful and empowering for CALD consumers, while consumers require support and knowledge to enable them to fully participate.