There’s a difference between helping and engaging

Ambulance Victoria’s (AV’s) paramedics and call takers help the community every day by using their training and expertise. Engagement flips this dynamic, with the community teaching AV how to help them more.

It’s a lesson in equality that AV’s Mark Scammel and other community engagement coordinators have learned studying for the Graduate Certificate in Consumer and Community Engagement (10164NAT) at the Health Issues Centre.

Mark Scammel smiling while sitting at a desk

Mark Scammel

For Mark, the course is helping him see his stakeholders aren’t in the office, but out in the community.

“It’s important for us as an ambulance service to get feedback from people about what’s working and what isn’t,” he said. “We need to talk to people who represent groups and have a broad knowledge and get feedback from people using our services.”

Mark’s studies have shown him the benefit of taking in a broader view and conversation. While a discussion with a patient will focus on their individual concerns, it won’t reflect the larger community’s needs. The course helps with this, providing students with a framework for effective conversations that can highlight issues.

“The course has been really good for us because it’s giving us a lot of insight,” he said. “How we engage people and groups shows us who’s representing the group as opposed to when we’re talking to someone from the group about their own experiences in isolation – which is a really important distinction.”

Shea Grant

“I’m feeling really positive about it. It’s welcomed.”

Shea Grant said the course had been very practical.

“This course highlights for me the importance of consumer and community engagement,” she said. “The tools we have been given will assist in doing that as we progress in our roles as community engagement coordinators.”

Tim Fraser also welcomes the opportunity to understand his stakeholders more meaningfully than before. “The course takes the perspective of actual consumer advocates, and it’s so important for us to connect with who our stakeholders are,” he said.

Tim says the course also gives him tools he can use in his role right away, like proven strategies that work for other organisations or departments and the community.

“It’s good to hear from other networks that have done that. Hearing stories of how our staff are starting to engage from all levels – organisational versus local.”

The course also aligns with AV’s commitment to providing a world-class health service that gets results.

“Evaluation is something you can take away and implement immediately,” Tim said. “You can take it back to the community and do it better.”