In February and March, we said farewell to Anne Curtis, Senior Engagement Consultant and lead of our fee-for-service work and Reema Naresh, Engagement Advisor and our Training Lead as they moved on to explore new opportunities.

Anne Curtis
During her time with Health Consumers Queensland, Anne has always been passionate about the voice of ALL consumers being heard and valued at all levels of the health system.

After joining HCQ in 2015, Anne adapted the Kitchen Table Discussion (KTD) methodology for Health Consumers Queensland in 2018 so consumers could lead conversations with consumers. Since that time, she has empowered many who had never had a voice in healthcare before to lead and participate in consultation on important health issues within their own communities in a safe and supportive environment.

Between 2019-2023, across almost 80 projects, via almost 400 KTDs or yarning circles, Anne enabled Queensland Health and other health-related organisations to hear directly from over 4,200 consumers about your experiences and views of healthcare, in areas as diverse as palliative care services, the Inform My Care website, Queensland Health’s COVID-19 response and the Queensland Digital Health Charter (to name only a few).

In addition, Anne has been a tireless advocate of amplifying the voices of people in correctional facilities, undertaking consultation with over 200 prisoners to produce training for health and corrections staff about their healthcare needs and rights.

Anne was also integral to the start up the Health Consumers Collaborative of Queensland and oversaw the development of the HCQ Consumer and Community Engagement Framework and the complementary guides for staff and consumers.

We would like to thank Anne for her dedication and immeasurable contribution to ensuring that consumers’ voices are placed firmly at the centre of healthcare services, planning and improvements.

We wish Anne every happiness and success for her future.

Reema Naresh

Reema Naresh

Reema’s passion for supporting and developing the skills and knowledge of consumers and health care providers to be able to partner successfully together, fuelled her work at HCQ as an Engagement Advisor and lead of our training program over the past six years.

During the pandemic, we saw Reema’s wonderful ability to respond and adapt to the ever-changing learning needs of consumers and staff come to the fore as she re-designed our training programs to be delivered online – enabling over 1,000 people right across the State to develop their skills and knowledge.

In July 2020, she launched the first session of our Engagement Snack Pack series – 30-minute online training sessions held at lunchtime and aimed specifically at Queensland Health staff from both Hospitals and Health Services and the Department. These ‘bite-sized’ interactive sessions included a short presentation, practical advice to get staff started on strengthening their consumer partnerships and a Q&A.

Three series later, this swift and practical new format had overcome the barriers of distance and time, enabling us to reach greater numbers of health staff from across the State, including more clinical staff, than ever before – and setting a new training record for HCQ.

Later, at the height of community transmission across Queensland, she and Engagement Advisor colleague, Suzanne Wirges, established and co-hosted HCQ’s twice-weekly online Coffee & Connect listening hours for anyone on our network to hear how they were coping at this difficult time. Reema noticed that new and emerging consumers valued listening to the experiences of highly skilled consumer representatives in a small, informal, safe and supportive space. Evolving out of Coffee & Connect, she introduced our first Consumer Mentoring session. These sessions are now an integral part of our training offering for consumers.

Always innovative and eager to embrace new ways of working, Reema was also behind our Project ECHO training series, a pioneering initiative launched by HCQ to strengthen consumer partnerships for consumers and carers. ECHO stands for Extension of Community Healthcare Outcomes. It is a unique online video-based learning model that is collaborative and builds people’s knowledge, skill and confidence.  It was initially developed to move knowledge and expertise between specialists and primary health care professionals but we were the first organisation in the world to use the Project ECHO model for consumer engagement partnerships in health!

Reema supported HCQ’s own Consumer Advisory Group for four years and during that time worked with CAG Chairs, Helen Mees and then Bec Waqanikalou.

Many consumers and staff throughout their engagement journey have turned to Guides for Partnering with Health Organisations or with Consumers. The development was led by Reema in 2018,  and these guides have become the ultimate reference tool for everyone involved in driving change in the health sector, delivering better outcomes and providing healthcare the community wants and needs.

We thank Reema for her valuable contribution and wish her every success in her future.