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Consumer and Carer Engagement: a Practical Guide

The Commission's Engage and Participate in Mental Health project highlighted the need to move away from a culture of ‘doing to’ to one of ‘working with’ consumers and carers. Effective engagement requires skills, capabilities and cultures that recognise and support equal partnerships and the value of lived experience perspectives. While change is occurring, engagement and participation is still a new area for many consumers, carers and people working in mental health organisations.

This guide attempts to capture the core values and principles around engagement and participation and present these in the form of a practical, good practice guide for use by mental health consumers and carers and by people working within the mental health system at all levels.

It provides a clear framework and set of principles for best practice in consumer and carer engagement and participation as well as step-by-step, practical advice on how these principles and values can be put to action.

We would like to acknowledge and thank Dr Michelle Banfield for her assistance in the production of this guide. We would also like to acknowledge and thank all of those who have contributed to the development of this guide through sharing of their experiences as part of the Engage and Participate in Mental Health Project and to those organisations who agreed to have examples of their engagement and participation practices included throughout the guide.