Most people have something to say when it comes to health. From conversations at barbecues to chats with co-workers to social media, people always find ways to share their views about health, wellbeing and medicine (and more).
Sometimes it’s useful; sometimes it’s simply about having a vent. But there are also ways you can voice your opinions, make them count, and bring real change.
Here are 5 ways to have your say about health.
Change the health system
Instead of tapping your innermost thoughts on hospitals, doctors or medical bills into Twitter, you can now direct your ideas to Australia’s Health Panel. Launched recently by the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF), the panel is a “national platform for people to register their views on health issues that are touching their lives”, according to its website.
The CHF, a not-for-profit organisation that represents health consumers and aims to improve Australia’s health system, is hoping to get at least 1,000 members of the public to join its panel this year. You can register your interest here.
Last year, a record 24,000 people participated in the annual Mission Australia Youth Survey, which found mental health, drugs and alcohol to be the biggest issues affecting young Australians.
The proportion of those surveyed who said mental health was of ‘national concern’ rose from 15% in 2015 to 33.7% in 2017, and many respondents said mental health was a barrier to achieving their goals at school or work.
If you’re aged 15 to 19 and have something to say about any issues that impact your world, you still have until July 31 to complete the online survey here.
Your thoughts on mental health
What do you know about mental health conditions? What do you think about them? What do you think about the people who have them? The Royal Flying Doctor Service, working with Australian Catholic University, is currently polling the public on how much they know about mental health and the mental health services available.
You can complete the Mental Health Literacy Survey here (it takes just 20 minutes).
One in 5 people will have a mental health condition in their lifetime, but many people don’t know how (or are reluctant) to get the help they need. This survey is designed to find out whether it’s because Australians don’t know how to recognise the symptoms, or whether they’re unwilling or unable to access mental health services. The aim is to help improve outcomes for people with mental health conditions.
Talk to your doctor
One of the most effective ways to take charge of your own health, and that of your family, is simply to talk to your doctor. Speak up and ask questions. And staying with one GP — and the same specialists — whom you trust, could offer significant benefits.
Research published in June in the journal BMJ Open found that ‘continuity of care’ (seeing the same health professionals over time) may be linked to lower mortality.
If you don’t have a GP whom you see regularly and feel comfortable with, ask relatives, friends or people in your community if they can recommend one. You can also look for a health professional near you, including those who bulk bill, using the healthdirect Service Finder.
How to make a complaint
Everyone has a right to safe, quality healthcare in Australia. If you have a serious complaint about a hospital, medical centre, doctor, nurse or any other health service provider, you can approach them directly to discuss your concerns.
If you aren't able to resolve your complaint, or don’t feel comfortable approaching the service provider, you can contact the health complaints commissioner in your state or territory.
- New South Wales: Visit the Health Care Complaints Commission or call 1800 043 159 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday).
- Victoria: Visit the Health Complaints Commissioner or call 1300 582 113 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday).
- Queensland: Visit the Office of the Health Ombudsman or call 133 646 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday).
- Australian Capital Territory: Visit the ACT Human Rights Commission or call 02 6205 2222 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday).
- Tasmania: Visit the Health Complaints Commissioner Tasmania or call 1800 001 170 (9am to 4.45pm, Monday to Friday).
- South Australia: Visit the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner or call 08 8226 8666 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) or 1800 232 007 (toll-free from country SA landlines).
- Western Australia: Visit the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office or call 08 6551 7600 or 1800 813 583 (toll free from country WA).
- Northern Territory: Visit the Health and Community Services Complaints Commission or call 1800 004 474 (9am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday).
Want more like this?
For health and wellbeing news you can use, go to the healthdirect blog.