Hawkesbury District Health Service's Community Board of Advice celebrates 25 years of serving as the voice of the people in 2021.
The advisory committee recently held its first meeting for the year to reflect on 2020 and discuss plans to engage the community as representatives for consumers in health care matters.
Started in 1996, the board "facilitate participation on the provision of quality services" and provide feedback to the health service concerning various local health issues.
Board members hold spots on a number of Hawkesbury District Health Service committees, including the hostpital's National Safety and Quality Health Service Standard committees, which provide an important tool in assessing the needs of patients, carers and consumers.
Members also engage with Hawkesbury Council, Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network and the Hawkesbury Area Police Command.
The board is made up of local residents from a vast range of fields. It recently welcomed its newest members Jenny Gilder, Les Jenkins, Katrina Marshall and Gae Kelly.
Hawkesbury District Health Service CEO Strephon Billinghurst said that the board's contribution was vital in helping to shape and enhance health service offerings as well as identifying potential service gaps.
"The CBOA act as an important conduit between the community and our health service," he said.
"They provide a voice to the consumer and assist in our understanding of the Hawkesbury community's needs and expectations when it comes to health care."
Board president Barry Adams said that a number of new initiatives would be launched this year, following a disrupted 2020.
"COVID-19 restrictions meant that we had to quickly adapt to a new way of meeting and working," he said.
"Like everyone, we experienced challenges operating in our usual manner and embraced virtual meeting platforms as a means of staying connected.
"In the absence face-to-face forums, we are keen to launch alternate methods of engaging with the community such as the use of social media platform Facebook to create a dedicated CBOA page."
Mr Adams said that the board's Facebook page would potentially help to expand community reach to new members and groups.
Another plan for the board in 2021 is developing a strategy to celebrate the Hawkesbury's cultural diversity and ensuring that all groups have their say when it comes to the direction of local health care.