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About us

Our staff

We have a small, dynamic team with diverse experience across consumer representation, consumer engagement, health promotion, population health, public affairs, communications, community mental health and community development.

Our staff

Melissa Fox

Chief Executive Officer

Melissa leads the organisation to support consumers and health providers to collaborate together to improve the safety and quality of health services. Melissa believes that consumers being involved in decision-making at all levels is essential to achieve consumer-centred care and to improve health services. She is an organisational representative on the Queensland Clinical Senate, Chair of the Partnering with Consumers, Australian Commission on Safety & Quality in Healthcare and an Advisory Group member of the Australian Centre for Value-based Health Care.

Melissa has been a part of the journey of Health Consumers Queensland; she was an original member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee that later became the independent organisation that is now Health Consumers Queensland. Melissa is a mother of two gorgeous girls and has previously worked in documentary and reality television.

Why am I here?

Melissa first learnt the importance of individuals advocating for their health needs when she watched her grandparents confidently make choices around their own health needs after they each survived multiple heart attacks and strokes. After starting her own family, she devoted her time as a full time volunteer working on a systemic level to improve access to models providing continuity of midwifery care.

Melissa has seen first-hand from her own consumer representative roles, how valuable the partnerships between consumers and clinicians are in creating healthier people and communities. She is working towards consumers being recognised and valued as leaders in health decision-making for their own healthcare as well as at a policy and systems level.

Email: melissa.fox@hcq.org.au


Our staff

Jo Smethurst

Senior Engagement Advisor

Jo is responsible for developing the capacity of consumers and staff to work together to design a health system that provides great health outcomes and experiences.  Her main area of work is with staff in the Department of Health but also provides support to a number of Hospital and Health Services. Her strategic advice to consumers, health leaders and staff is supported by her formal qualifications, her extensive knowledge of consumer engagement from working at Health Consumers Queensland,  and her lived experience of being a consumer representative.

Qualifications

  • IAP2 Australasia’s Certificate in Engagement
  • Masters in Business (Organisational communication)

Why am I here?

Jo loves the idea that health consumers can change the way in which we receive care by speaking up and becoming involved in decision-making about policies, services and health priorities. Being involved with a voluntary organisation that works towards improving maternity care for women across Australia helped Jo to see how consumers can be influential in re-designing and shaping our health care.

email: jo.smethurst@hcq.org.au


Our staff

Chelsea Gourgaud

Engagement Advisor

Chelsea is responsible for supporting and maintaining relationships with a number of Hospital and Health Services and other organisations to support and increase effective partnerships with consumers and carers. This is done through a number of ways including, delivering trainings, facilitating workshops, providing strategic advice and specific project work including our Annual Forum. If you would like the opportunity to discuss consumer engagement and how you can embed this within your work, please contact Chelsea.

Why am I here?

Having engaged and worked with consumers and community members within a primary healthcare setting for a number of years, Chelsea understands the importance of partnering with consumers in shaping and improving the way health care is designed and delivered. Chelsea believes partnering with health consumers, carers and family members is a top priority in the decision making to improve health care and health services.

email: chelsea.gourgaud@hcq.org.au


Our staff

Reema Naresh

Engagement Advisor

Reema is responsible for liaising and maintaining relationships with the Hospital and Health Services staff working in consumer and community engagement to support their effective partnering with consumers and carers. Reema’s role incorporates providing strategic advice, training and specific project work.

Why am I here?

Reema has worked extensively in community development as well as health promotion with culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CALD). She believes that to be engaged and involved in our own health decision making is essential to a person’s wellbeing. To understand our own physical and mental needs and to be able to articulate our health care needs, empowers a person to take control of their health. Having lived and worked in various countries she truly appreciates the wonderful health care system Queensland has to offer. Reema is passionate about supporting and skilling consumers, in particular CALD consumers and health care providers to be able to better engage with each other so that health consumers and their family’s needs are met.

email: reema.naresh@hcq.org.au


Our staff

Suzanne Wirges

Engagement Advisor

Suzanne’s role at Health Consumers Queensland supports making consumer partnerships more effective. Suzanne develops resources, delivers training, and provides strategic advice to consumers, carers, and health service staff.

Why am I here?

Suzanne first saw consumers driving healthcare in the early 90s, volunteering for an HIV organisation. A DIY enthusiast at heart, seeing people making profound changes to healthcare and policy was a revelation. 25 years on, her enthusiasm for consumer-driven services hasn’t waned. Suzanne spent nearly a decade working in HIV support, and continues to marvel at the passion and innovation in that community. 2019 marks her third year with Health Consumers Queensland.

email: suzanne.wirges@hcq.org.au


Our staff

Nicole O’Keane

Office Manager

Nicole is responsible for the day-to-day running of the office making sure our finances are impeccable and our consumer partners are reimbursed on time for their work with us.

Why am I here?

Nicole likes to use her administrative skills for organisations that make a social difference, particularly those who work towards equity for people who are sometimes overlooked or marginalised.

email: nicole.okeane@hcq.org.au


Our staff

Alison Rich

Project Support Coordinator

Alison works alongside the Engagement Advisors promoting partnership opportunities to our state-wide network of consumers and supporting our training/networking programme to build the skills, confidence and experience of consumers, carers and health service staff.

Why am I here?

After writing to the hospital where I had my daughter and offering some recommendations about their post-natal care, I was invited to work with senior maternity staff to develop new procedures and standards.  It was such a positive experience and it made me appreciate the impact just one consumer representative can have when he or she can genuinely partner with health service staff who are also invested in improving people’s experience of health care. With 15 years’ experience in communications, engagement and equality advocacy in the UK, I believe HCQ’s strategic engagement frameworks set up both consumers and the health system to succeed in partnership.

email: alison.rich@hcq.org.au


Our staff

Anne Curtis

Engagement Consultant - Special Projects

Anne was our Project Manager and Senior Engagement Advisor for the past three years. Anne resigned from her full time position in May 2018 and has continued to work in a part-time capacity for Health Consumers Queensland on a consultancy basis on specific projects for Queensland Health and also fee-for-service projects.

Anne has been instrumental in building the profile of the organisation and many of the relationships that underpin much of our work today.  Her consumer-focused, high level strategic advice on how to embed meaningful partnerships and the importance of health literacy has been much valued by the health organisations she has worked with.

Anne has over 28 years’ experience working in hospitals and health services in Australia and New Zealand, in senior communication, engagement, fundraising and project management roles.   Anne has also managed a community engagement organisation in New Zealand focused on having the community’s voice heard in health planning and service delivery.

Why am I here?

I am passionate about the voice of consumers being heard and valued at all levels of health. This is why I continue to work part-time on projects that enable and encourage the voice of consumers in making significant change to how health services are designed and delivered.

email: anne.curtis@hcq.org.au


Our staff

Leonie Sanderson

Engagement Advisor

Leonie Sanderson is the Health Consumers Queensland Engagement Advisor. Leonie has over 20 years of experience working in the consumer, engagement and community space and is looking forward to achieving positive outcomes on this significant project.

Why am I here?

Leonie believes that the best way to achieve real, lasting change in the health system is to enable people to be equal partners in their healthcare. Leonie’s advocacy began early when she staged a puppet show in Grade 3 to raise money for Deaf Children Australia. From working in Women’s Health to developing social policy to delivering community engagement projects, Leonie is committed to making sure the voice of consumers is heard and acted upon. She also loves strong black coffee and cannot resist an offer of chocolate.

email: leonie.sanderson@hcq.org.au