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“Making a noise” results in better health services

Alan Thomas, Darlene Cox and Sue Andrews

Alan Thomas, Darlene Cox and Sue Andrews

The ACT Health Care Consumers’ Association recently celebrated 40 productive years of making a noise. In doing so, they have improved health services.
There was a time when parents could only see their hospitalised child between 2 and 4 pm. And if you wanted to complain about a doctor or a health service, there was no process to do so.
These things changed because some concerned and dedicated Canberrans met around a kitchen table 40 years ago. They saw the need for an organisation which would give the community a say in the health care system. The Health Care Consumers’ Association (HCCA) was subsequently formed.
Health care consumers are people who use health services and care about the quality and safety of care they receive. That means all of us! And HCCA is there to encourage and support them to be involved in all levels of health service planning and decision making.
Both the current and past ACT Health Ministers appreciate the benefits of consumer involvement.
“Consumer input contributes to the performance of the health system by providing unique, real world, lived perspective, and helps us better understand the needs of those for whom the system exists” says Minister for Health, Meegan Fitzharris.
“The consumer movement in health is essential because consumers look at things differently” says Katy Gallagher (former ACT health minister 2006-2014).
HCCA’s current president, Dr Alan Thomas says that “HCCA’s tale is one of compassion, tenacity, passion and, of course, sheer ‘bloody mindedness’ to challenge the status quo.”
To celebrate the 40th year since incorporation on 13 October 1978, HCCA hosted its inaugural conference last week. It also launched a history of the movement called Making a noise: 40 years of consumer health advocacy in the ACT. The history, written by Dr Robyn Clough, drew on numerous interviews with members and HCCA’s extensive archive. So popular was the book, that only three copies remained at the end of the conference. However, it is available online at
“HCCA is an organisation that gives consumers a voice. It allows them to be heard. It is an organisation that lifts people up.” says Janne Graham, OAM, founding member of HCCA. Fortunately, the current Minister for Health agrees.
“The ACT Government has enjoyed a longstanding partnership with the HCCA. … [And] there is no doubt that the HCCA will continue to be a vital stakeholder and driving force” says Minister for Health, Meegan Fitzharris.
Consumers now have a seat at the table. And we are still passionate and tenacious about improving the health system.

For more information please contact HCCA at or 02 6166 0149.
Approved for release by the HCCA President, Dr Alan Thomas.









Last updated: 21/11/2018