Consumer participation is described as ‘the active participation of people who, because they have used services or are potential service users, can bring their knowledge and experience to contribute to the design, planning, delivery and evaluation of services’. (Voices on Choices: working towards consumer-led alcohol and drug treatment, Anglicare Tasmania, Social Action and Research Centre, July 2010.)
Engaging alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) service consumers in key decision making processes is essential for improving the effectiveness and efficacy of the provision of ATOD services. Consumers have a right to be involved in decisions that have impacts on their health and wellbeing.
Involving consumers in decision making has a number of benefits, including:
- improved health and wellbeing for individual consumers;
- improved policy outcomes leading to benefits for groups of consumers;
- improved transparency and relationships between consumers and service providers, leading to enhanced consumer satisfaction with services; and
- consumer-influenced decisions will be perceived as more credible, leading to increased political legitimacy.
Nothing About Us Without Us Report
The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Open Society Institute has compiled a publication, “Nothing About Us Without Us” an informative resource focusing on greater, meaningful involvement of people who use illegal drugs.
Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL)
The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League is the national peak organisation representing the state and territory drug user organisations and issues of national significance for people who use or have used illicit drugs. AIVL has carried out extensive work in the area of meaningful engagement with people who use drugs to describe opportunities, experiences, activities and support for consumer participation in treatment services.