‘Community Participation in Public Health’
Community consultation provides numerous benefits to communities, government and associated public health planners. However there are a number of barriers to effective community consultation. This paper aims to explore the benefits, barriers, role and levels of community consultation in health planning through the findings of a literature review and municipal public health planning experiences in Queensland, Australia. Community consultation can occur at a number of levels, generally the continuum of consultation includes community involvement, community representation and community control (Chu, 1995). The appropriateness of the level of consultation is often related to the level of 'agenda sharing'. To establish the level of consultation appropriate, an agency or planning project needs to establish their need and ability to share agendas. If the aim is to surrender the agenda to the community, community control is the ideal. However, if the consultation is needed to ensure a sharing of priorities and decision-making, community representation is recommended. If the agenda is set and inflexible, community involvement would be the appropriate level. The Municipal Public Health Planning model used in Queensland aims to develop local health plans collaboratively between community members, local agencies and program providers. Local governments and regional state government providers play a key role in facilitating these projects. Partnership development and collaboration are key principles. Research is being developed at Griffith University to further understand the role of community consultation in Municipal Public Health Planning. The research will document the appropriate level of consultation required in municipal public health planning.
2004 International Conference of Environmental Health proceedings