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.

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  • Consumer & carers
  • Lived experience

Acknowledgement of Country

The Commission acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands throughout Australia.
We pay our respects to their clans, and to the elders, past present and emerging, and acknowledge their continuing connection to land, sea and community.


The Commission is committed to embracing diversity and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the provision of health services. The Commission welcomes all people irrespective of ethnicity, lifestyle choice, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lived Experience

We acknowledge the individual and collective contributions of those with a lived and living experience of mental ill-health and suicide, and those who love, have loved and care for them. Each person’s journey is unique and a valued contribution to Australia’s commitment to mental health suicide prevention systems reform.