The CARE (Consumer; Action; Responsive; Empowerment) Ideas Exchange was held on Thursday 4th May 2017 in Melbourne’s CBD.

Over 90 people, from across Victoria and interstate, attended this full day event focusing on the role and future of consumer participation in the Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) sector.

Presented by APSU at SHARC and Taskforce as a culmination of our SMSDGF Commonwealth Department of Health funded project, the event was a first of its kind opportunity for all those working in, supporting or wanting to get involved in consumer participation.

The program included presentations, workshops and networking activities.  Key issues covered:

  • why consumer experience matters and authentic ways to make this happen
  • change needs to happen and how commitment and resources need to come from all levels
  • the importance of mapping the journey of consumer participation in the AOD sector
  • examples and models of practice of consumer councils in action
  • achieving unity of consumer voice within mental health, AOD and other sectors as together we can build critical mass
  • the role of technology in person centred care
  • the value of telling consumer stories
  • fostering family participation and developing the voice of family members

A major objective of the day was to develop networks to support and promote the growth of consumer participation in the AOD sector. A lively networking activity resulted in the identification of a network of champions from across Victoria.  

Heather Pickard, CEO at SHARC and MC for the day, said “Networks are essential in promoting the role of the consumer voice.  With PHN funding, APSU at SHARC will continue until January 2017 to establish, support and embed this valuable and much needed network hub.”

PowerPoint presentations are available via SHARC’s website at

This event was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health, Substance Misuse Service Delivery Grants Fund