Community Engagement


Community Engagement

Northern New South Wales Local Health District (NNSW LHD) is committed to working with our communities to improve local health services.

Across Australia people are getting involved in health organisations by sharing their experiences, commenting on initiatives and becoming partners in design, planning and evaluation of health services. Research shows that involving patients, carers and community in services leads to:

  • improved health outcomes
  • safer care
  • services based on local experience and needs
  • improved communication between patients and staff
  • increased community understanding of the health service
  • more trust and patient confidence
  • greater staff satisfaction.

How to get involved

There are many ways community members can participate, such as

The emphasis is to draw on the knowledge, skills and experiences of past, present and future users of health services to improve the delivery of health care.

Community Engagement Framework

NNSW LHD has a Community Engagement Framework which guides our health service to increase community participation and facilitate the input of the community into key policies, plans and NNSWLHD initiatives.

The Framework was developed with input from community members, staff and the Board and includes an Engagement Structure and a Community Engagement Strategy. You can read or download a copy here.

Community Engagement Structure

The NNSW LHD Community Engagement Structure includes:

  • A Community Partnership Advisory Council to oversee community engagement across NNSW LHD
  • Advisory groups in local towns and service areas (currently recruiting).
  • Special interest groups and improvement groups.

Community Partnership Advisory Council

Our peak advisory committee is the Community Partnership Advisory Committee (CPAC) which is a sub-committee of the NNSW LHD Board and serves to ensure the community is part of the ongoing improvement of health care services.

Established in 2019, it provides valuable insights and advice about the community’s needs and expectations. The purpose of the Community Partnership Advisory Council is to:

  • Assist NNSW LHD to integrate community views in its operations, planning and policy development
  • Express the views of the community to the NNSW LHD Health Board
  • Advise the NNSW LHD Health Board on whether there is effective community engagement/participation across the organization, as defined by the NNSW LHD Community Engagement Framework.

CPAC Meeting Minutes

Meet your CPAC members


Emma Walke

I am a Bundjalung woman from Northern NSW; my family are from Cabbage Tree Island/Ballina area.

In my work life I am the Academic Lead for Aboriginal Health Education at the University Centre for Rural Health, University of Sydney based in Lismore which involves working with medical and allied health students visiting the Northern Rivers area from around Australia. Education goals for the students while living in a rural location is to understand the Aboriginal health environment, effects of past government policy and the current health status of Aboriginal people. Working with future health professionals to help them to identify their own attitudes and behaviours when working with Aboriginal people is a passion, and my way of being part of a better future for Aboriginal peoples.

I have over 19 years’ experience in the Aboriginal and mainstream not-for-profit sectors in the Northern Rivers in both health and community organisations. Previous, I was the Manager for Aboriginal Health at the North Coast Primary Health Network and was a part of the beginning of the life of Bullinah AHS, the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service based in Ballina.

Personally, I am a mum, I have a beautiful 25-year-old daughter and a very strapping young man who is 14 this year. I live in Bagotville on a small property and am a potter in my spare time.

Deputy Chair

Ballina Community Advisory Group
Jacinta Rowe
I have experience in adult and vocational education and training; health and community sector work (with a special interest in the intersections of aged care, NDIS, community support services, dementia and its impact on families and spouses), business management and workforce development.

I have robust networks developed while working across all parts of the VET sector, several TAFEs and universities, in public and private corporations. I have worked in the ACT, Vic, Qld, WA, SA, NSW and in the UK. I have had many personal experiences in around 16 hospitals between Ballina and Southport over the last four years as the primary carer for two 85 year-old parents; as the legal guardian of a 60 year-old friend with advanced dementia; and mother of a 15 year-old.

I have served on several private corporate and not for profit boards mostly in the adult education and health industries, and am currently a non-executive director on the board of a community college.

My professional passion lies in designing and implementing workforce development programs that help individuals and organisations meet their strategic objectives.


Lindsay Passfield
I am a rural contractor working mainly in support of the beef industry involving stock work, fencing and animal husbandry. I live near Woodenbong, 103 km north west of Lismore and 15 km from the Urbenville Multi-Purpose Service (MPS).

My wife and I “retired” after a 21 year RAAF career and returned to Woodenbong in 1991.We use local health services and recognise the importance of both the medical and aged care facilities to our extended community.

My 20-year tenure as a Councillor with Kyogle Council, 12 years on the executive of the National Timber Councils Association, and extensive contact with the local community, my work and campdrafting has equipped me well to recognise and understand the concerns of local people and to advocate on their behalf to the Local Health District.

George Thompson
I retired to Coraki in 2005 after a career in the Commonwealth Public Service in the areas of policy, management and governance. I became active in community affairs, becoming a founding member of the Coraki Health Reference Group and member of various committees involved in the planning and construction of the Coraki Campbell HealthOne. I am also a member of the NNSWLHD Health Care Quality and Research Committee.

My interest in health matters intensified when my wife suffered a series of strokes in 2012 leaving her unable to walk. I am now her full-time carer. I have a particular interest in the provision of health services to small regional communities.

Murwillumbah Community Advisory Group

Ron Hoffman
I am a retired health professional having spent 40 years working in the public health systems of NSW and WA as a Technologist, Scientist and Manager in Radiotherapy, Medical Physics and Nuclear Medicine.

My wife and I moved to Murwillumbah for family reasons and I became involved in the development of the new Tweed Valley Hospital (TVH) where I am a member of the Community Reference Panel along with the Cancer support and Medical Imaging Project User Groups.

I was recently elected as Chairman of the Murwillumbah Hospital Community Advisory Group and as its representative on CPAC.

Ensuring that an excellent health service is provided to all residents in the region is my main goal, along with helping to develop the role of the Murwillumbah Hospital as the TVH is developed and commissioned. I am also keen to ensure adequate medical and emergency services are provided in the Tweed as that hospital is decommissioned in the future.

Byron Community Advisory Group

Annalee Atia
A local to the Byron Shire, living and working in the area for over 14 years, I am a wife and mother of two children. I have been a maternity health consumer advocate and representative in the Northern Rivers for the past six years and am the NSW state president of Maternity Choices Australia, Australia’s peak maternity consumer representative body. I speak with lots of families and individuals in the area accessing a variety of maternity and related services across the LHD and represent myself and my family as well as the many people I hear from on a daily basis. A women’s business coach, long-time producer and co-founder of PBB Media – Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond, a not-for-profit community media and journalism organisation dedicated to cross pollinating of information between the stakeholders of maternity care in Australia and globally, I am wholeheartedly dedicated to representing and advocating for the voices of women and families.

Clarence Community Advisory Group

Chris Cormack
I work in disability management in the Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour for Aruma (formerly House with no Steps) Australia’s largest disability provider.

I have experience in and am passionate about social justice, in particular homelessness, and have worked for several faith-based organisations. I spent over 20 years in marketing and in PR servicing state, local and federal clients. I believe in both equality and equity for all. Additionally, I have skills in public participation, lobbying, funding and grants and am outcomes based. I treat all people with respect, integrity and compassion and expect the same in return.

I moved to the North Coast of NSW (Nymboida) three years ago after 28 years in Sydney and I advocate strongly for services in rural and regional Australia to be on par with those in metropolitan areas.

Lismore Community Advisory Group

Christine Minkov
I moved from Sydney to Lismore 20 years ago and I am still grateful for that decision every day. I am a health policy and planning consultant with a passion for improving the lives of people impacted by mental health and alcohol and other drug problems. I believe a high quality health service is one whose culture is inclusive and respectful of consumers and staff alike. Stigma and discrimination prevent people from seeking the help they need and makes us poorer as a community.

My consultancy is a values-based business which is borne out in my commitment to give back to community. As well as the CPAC, I am a member of the Lismore Community Advisory Group (NNSWLHD), the Board of NORWACS and the National LGBTI Health Alliance Policy Advisory Group.

I look forward to being part of meaningful change in our health services.

Tweed Community Advisory Group

Fleur Dougan
Together with my husband I was carer for our son who was diagnosed with a treatment resistant psycho social illness in 2001. In 2013 I retired and we all moved to Tweed Heads South. Sadly, in July 2019 our son died suddenly. While living in Brisbane I spoke as a carer at several Rotary Mental Health Awareness evenings and also attended a six-week workshop on Becoming a Carer. I am a member of Tweed Mental Health Carers Group, NNSWLHD Mental Health Forum, Tweed Community Advisory Group, Tweed Valley Hospital Project User Group Mental Health, Tweed Valley Hospital Project User Group Emergency Department.

I participated in the Tweed Hospital Therapeutic Environment Project, submitting proposals to Government on renovating the current Mental Health Clinic.

My special interest is Mental Health and where possible assisting consumers to live the best possible life.

Casino Community Advisory Group

Suzanne Carey
I live in Casino and have done most of my life. I am Teacher in Early Childhood and currently work in Coraki at the only Preschool in the town. I am the Administration Manager as well as a Teacher of 3-5 year olds.

I have been actively involved in several sporting groups within Casino, with Physical Culture being a focus for over 16 years.

I am the current administrator of the Octopus for Preemies – NSW group, supplying many hospitals with Octopals whilst they are in the NICU and Special Care Nurseries of participating hospitals of NSW. This is a real passion of mine.

I am a current member of Coraki CWA, the Coraki Health Reference Group involved in the planning and construction of the Coraki Campbell HealthOne and Summerland Physical Culture Club.

In 2019 I joined the Casino Community Advisory Group and was appointed as chair and now the CPAC representative. I look forward to being part of a group that is involved with better health care for all.

Drug and Alcohol Community Advisory Committee

Aaron Moore
I live in Wollongbar. I am a spray painter by trade and french polisher and I am currently studying business online. I also boxed professionally for many years. I used to be involved with criminal activity including drugs but have been clean, sober and away from all that for the past 8-10 years and don’t plan on going back.

I now suffer mental health and physical issues due to my history from hyper-vigilance to depression.

I joined the Drug and Alcohol Community Advisory Committee (DACAC) and CPAC to help out the community with my lived experience. I believe I can bring new and current ideas to the meetings. Things that people need now and ways of problem-solving issues for them immediately instead of them having to wait for help.

I wish to involve myself more so that I am better able to help the community with my ideas and I am excited to work with the team at DACAC as they have so much experience and are genuinely committed to helping others. If I can help even just a little, it makes me happy and also helps me with my own issues.

Multi Purpose Service (MPS) Network Community Consultation Forum

Terry Moody
As North Coast residents for 38 years, my wife and I have operated four businesses concurrently in Lismore for 10 years, with a major focus on wholesale food production for service clubs and restaurants and operating a restaurant.

In 1991 Jenny and I moved to Upper Duck Creek in the Upper Clarence where we run beef cattle, and forestry ventures in native forests and plantations.

Having worked in remote mining villages, it became apparent the Upper Clarence was even more disadvantaged, with poor service delivery systems and logistics.

I drove the provision of internet and mobile phone service delivery to the area, as well as a large number of TAFE adult education courses.

Being involved in Landcare I have served in executive positions on government regional strategic planning and community consultation committees dealing with environmental and natural resource management.

Community Advisory Groups (CAGs)

Community Advisory Groups help to make sure the community is involved in decisions and plans that affect them.

CAGs are being established in most areas within the NNSWLHD footprint including Tweed, Murwillumbah, Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Casino and Clarence.

CAGs meet regularly and provide suggestions, feedback, perspective, ideas and advice to help ensure our healthcare services are accessible and respond to the community’s needs.

NNDSW LHD service areas also have advisory groups. They include:

Frequently asked questions

What is a health consumer?

Consumers of health care are people who use, or are potential users, of health services. NNSW LHD prefers to use words such as community representatives or participants, patients and carers.

What is consumer participation?

Consumer or community participation is when people who use our services can have a say in how services are developed and provided.

Why is community participation important?

When people are involved in decisions that affect them, we achieve better health outcomes and create better services. You can participate by joining the Northern NSW Local Health District community register by emailing

How do community advisors participate?

As a community advisor, you may be involved in:

  • Providing advice about services
  • Reading and commenting on publications
  • Contribute to planning, review, and evaluation of services
  • Assisting with staff education and training
  • Speaking to staff
  • Participating in focus groups or surveys.
Who can become a member of a Community Advisory Group?

Committee members may include patients, families, carers, friends of patients, members of community groups, and people interested in health who live or work in Northern NSW.

CAG members are volunteers and act in an advisory capacity. They are not expected to have knowledge in the health sector or have technical backgrounds – their presence is to share their experiences and be the voice of the community.

Will I get paid as a community advisor?

Community advisors generally are volunteers however members receive a reimbursement payment for attending approved meetings.

How do I apply to be a member of an advisory group?

For further details about advisory groups and how to apply, please contact the Community Engagement Manager, on 02 6624 0333 or email

Connect with us

Northern NSW Local Health District values the input of our community in helping to shape their local public healthcare system.

Here’s how you can stay in touch and provide your input:

NNSWLHD has a community engagement database where community members can register to receive information about opportunities to participate and provide input into health service consultative processes. If you would like to be added to this database, email

If you have a story to share on our channels, email