The Health Consumer Advisory Service currently consists of 10 people spread from Northland to Dunedin. Each person brings a broad range of skills and experiences and most importantly, a passion for partnering with patients and their whanau/family to improve the experience, quality of care and outcomes for all.
Marj and her husband currently run a small Fly Fishing Lodge just inland from Hokitika. They have always been busy with their own business which exported all over the world.
In 2003 Marj was diagnosed with low grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Marj and her husband were in the process of moving to their West Coast home at this time and have been there ever since.
They found the experience of being in a rural area and requiring support without family nearby to be an interesting and ongoing challenge. Hence when Marj became able she was keen to help to give back and contribute to the system.
"Cancer Voices training opened the doors for this", Marj says.
"This now seems a long time ago and since then I have become very involved in many Consumer panels and groups.
"Cancer was my first passion for obvious reasons so with the help of the Southern Cancer Network, we started the South Island Cancer Consumer group. This led to my involvement in the National Cancer Consumer Group.
"Over time my interest has moved towards long-term conditions and I have become involved in The South Island Palliative Care Work Stream and worked on the Faster Cancer treatment programme on the Tumour Streams.
"I do network with a lot of groups which I find really important, as this knowledge is very helpful when Consumer involvement is required.
"My new position with the Health Consumer Advisory Service and Health Navigator is really important to me and I look forward to continuing to make a difference from a consumer’s perspective."
Martine Abel-Williamson works as Strategic Advisor Disability at Auckland Council, as well as fulfilling a role as a member of the Health Quality and Safety Commission’s Consumer Network.
Martine immigrated from South Africa to New Zealand 19 years ago and is usually accompanied by her guide dog, Westin.
She is a board member of Blind Citizens NZ, where she is currently their World Blind Union (WBU) representative for New Zealand.
That provides opportunities for involvement in capacity building and empowerment initiatives at international level.
At WBU level Martine holds the portfolios of:
- Strategic Objective Lead – Access to the Environment and Transport
- World Blind Union Asia-Pacific (WBUAP) Chair
- Women’s Network
- WBUAP Regional United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) Co-ordinator.
Martine’s the Chair of Auckland Disability Law (ADL), the only disability specific community law centre in the country. As board member of Disability Connect, or the Parent and Family Resource centre (which is its more well-known name) she keeps a hand in pan-disability matters for systemic advocacy purposes.
Gary Sutcliffe is the coordinator for the Health Consumer Advisory Service. Gary's health-related background is primarily in mental health initially through his experience of depression and anxiety associated with a business failure in the early 1990s.
Over the past 20 plus years Gary has experienced both recovery and relapse and learned much about himself and the mental health system. Gary joined the mental health workforce in 2004 and this work has included peer support and advocacy, leadership and management roles, consumer audit work, training and development. Gary lives in Auckland with his wife of 41 years and has two adult children and five granddaughters. Gary is currently employed as a Peer Support Specialist with East Tamaki Healthcare, based in Otara, South Auckland.
Karen has always had a keen interest in Health - especially in the area of provision of care and services, as well as education and training. Karen was no longer able to work as a health practitioner due to arthritis, so used her skills to transfer to health administration. Living with calcium pyrophosphate deposition disease (CPPD) and osteoarthritis is challenging at times, but Karen has been able to access appropriate health care, and sees it as a priority that all in need be supported and educated to enable them to have a productive and comfortable lifestyles within the limitations of any long-term condition.
Having had four surgeries to deal with the effects of arthritis, Karen understands the challenges of long-term conditions. She is a volunteer for Arthritis New Zealand, and has completed advocacy training, two research type assignments for Arthritis New Zealand, and runs their monthly local Arthritis peer support group.
Previous positions include being an enrolled nurse, cardio-pulmonary technician, proficiency grade ambulance officer, supervisor in ambulance control centre (Wellington), CPR and first aid instructor and in medical administration.
Karen currently works as a Clinical Skills administrator for Year Two and Year three medical students (~600 in total) at Otago Medical School.
Tasi comes from an administration and finance background. He started a career as a Tongan peer support specialist after training as a Stanford Leader in April 2015 and enjoys this new role.
"It improves my health and also helps those with long term health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, gout and lung problems to improve their wellness too."
Other members of the Advisory Service include:
- Raewyn Bhana
- Barbara Broome
- Mary Campbell
- Kylie Head
- Kevin Murray
- Tama Tua
Gary Sutcliffe is also the Advisory Service's Coordinator and the team are supported by Brett Austin, General Manager, and Dr Janine Bycroft, Clinical Director of Health Navigator Charitable Trust. The team also work closely with the Long-Term Conditions team from the Ministry of Health led by Karen Evison.