Leading the way in consumer involvement

Ingrid Bensten and Lisa Langlands
RkPG Mental Health CAG founder and former chair, Ingrid Bentsen, and current chair, Lisa Langlands
October 11, 2019

From its humble beginnings as a group of people getting together to improve the consumer experience, the Consumer Advisory Group (CAG) is now a powerful voice in the planning and delivery of Rockingham Peel Group (RkPG) mental health services.

The CAG was one of the first in WA when it was established 20 years ago, is one of the longest active CAGs in WA and has led the way in consumer participation in mental health services.

On the CAG’s 20th anniversary, founder and former chair Ingrid Bentsen reflects on the group’s beginnings.

“We noticed there was a lack of information available for consumers so a group of us got together, meeting weekly at each other’s houses,” Ingrid said.

Although the CAG has since become more formalised, its purpose and focus has remained the same. 

“Our role is to be the eyes, ears and most importantly the voice of consumers in the mental health system,” Ingrid said.

“We do this by ensuring the consumer perspective is always represented in the planning and development of services.”

The RkPG Mental Health Service provides care for adults from Kwinana to Waroona at three community centres and an inpatient unit at Rockingham General Hospital.

Comprised of a group of local community members with lived experience of mental health issues, the CAG has been instrumental in the growth of services from planning through to the continued delivery of services.

Over the 20 years, the CAG’s achievements include advising on the design of the Mimidi Park Inpatient Unit and developing the peer support worker role which has been praised by mental health clients and families.

Ingrid said the relationship between the CAG, clinicians and executive has been a key to their success.

“The consumer voice is heard, and most importantly valued, at the highest level of decision making.

“After all, we are working towards the same goal; helping people in our community to recover and live with purpose and meaning.”

RkPG Mental Health Service Co-Director Anthony Collier said the CAG was pivotal to foster strong links with community partners.

“The CAG have always, and will continue to be, at the foundation of our service delivery,” Anthony said.

“We are immensely grateful for the guidance they provide.”

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