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Understanding key words and terms is important to help us understand the health system and our own health. Following is a list of some key terms and acronyms.


Community refers to groups of people or organisations with a common interest. While some communities may connect through a local or regional interest in health, others may share a cultural background, religion or language. Some communities may be geographically dispersed but linked through an interest in a specific health issue by the internet, or some other means.

Reference: Queensland Health. (2002). Consumer and community participation toolkit: For Queensland Health staff. Brisbane: Author.


Health Consumers Queensland identifies consumers as people who use, or are potential users, of health services including their family and carers. Consumers may participate as individuals, groups, organisations of consumers, consumer representatives or communities.

Reference: Queensland Health. (January 2003). Queensland Health position statement: Consumers and community participation: To promote community engagement in health. Brisbane: Author.


Within the context of this definition, a carer is a person of any age who, without being paid, cares for another person who needs ongoing support because of a long-term medical condition, a mental illness, a disability, frailty or the need for palliative care.

A carer may or may not be a family member and may or may not live with the person. However, volunteers under the auspices of an organisation are not recognised as a carer.

Reference: Queensland Government. (February 2007). Queensland Government: Carer Recognition Policy. Brisbane: Author.


For Health Consumers Queensland purposes, where we use the word “committee” we are describing any reference group, advisory group, board, consultation forum, committee, working group, and so forth, where a consumer representative is sought through the Health Consumers Queensland network.

Consumer, carer and/or community

Community engagement refers to arrangements for citizens and communities to participate in the processes used to make good policy and to deliver on programs and services.1

Consumer, carer and community engagement is the process by which the aspirations, concerns, needs and values of citizens and communities are incorporated in government, non-government and private sector decision-making, planning service delivery and evaluation.2

Community engagement is a powerful vehicle for bringing about environmental and behavioural changes that will improve the health of the community and its members through partnerships and coalitions that help mobilise resources, influence systems and change relationships among partners. It serves as a catalyst for changing policies, programs and practices.3

  1. References:
    Queensland Health. (2002). Consumer and community participation toolkit: For Queensland Health staff. Brisbane: Author.
  2. Health WA. (April 2007). WA Health consumer carer and community engagement framework: For health services, hospitals and WA Health following consultations across WA Health. Retrieved on 18 September 2015 from:
  3. Fawcett et al., cited in Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service. (2005). Community engagement framework: 2005-2010. Adelaide: Government of South Australia.

Health advocacy

Health Consumers Queensland sees advocacy as speaking, acting or writing with minimal conflict of interest to support a health consumer or group’s wellbeing, and to promote, protect and defend their right to accessible, safe, quality healthcare. Health advocacy can be undertaken by the consumer themselves, or by an advocate representing the individual or group’s perceived interests.

Health policy

The laws, rules and financial and administrative decisions made by governments and other relevant organisations to influence the management of and planning for the health system and the provision of health services.

Health professional

A health professional is a person who uses skills and knowledge to treat people and work towards them getting well in a clinical situation. Some examples: nurse, doctor, physiotherapist, dentist, counsellor.

Social determinants of health

The social determinants of health are the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age and the systems in place to deal with illness, which are all shaped by wider societal factors i.e. early life, education, employment and working conditions, food security, gender, healthcare services, housing, income and its distribution, social safety net, social exclusion, unemployment and employment security.

Reference: Department of Health and Ageing. (2009). Development of a new national women’s health policy consultation discussion paper 2009. Canberra: author.

Systemic advocacy

Systemic advocacy seeks to introduce, influence or produce positive long-term changes to attitudes, systems, policies and procedures, to remove barriers, address discriminatory practices and to ensure the collective rights and interests of health consumers are attained and upheld. It is primarily concerned with encouraging changes to the law, government, policies and community attitudes. It also seeks to influence ‘…the social and political structures that promote and sustain injustice and inequality’.

Reference: Office of the Public Advocate, Queensland. (2005). Challenging Behaviour: Five years of public advocacy in Queensland 2001-2005. 16.


Wellbeing is a state of complete physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing, which is not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.