Consumer Participation

What is Consumer Participation?

Through consumer participation, service users are asked how services can be improved. It is an opportunity for direct input into the running of the homelessness service sector.

The North West Homelessness Network is comitted to listening to consumers of homelessness services, and also those who are at risk of homelessness. The information gathered in the annual consumer participation surveys inform, guide and develop the future directions of the network, so it can continue to provide relevant services and responses.

Through service user participation in the annual surveys, important quantative and qualitative data is collected and collated into information which can inform some of the future directions of the network. The responses from the surveys form the evidence base for the provision of better services in the homelessness sector.


Click here for a link to the findings from the 2017 consumer survey on consumers' experiences of emergency accommodation:

Click here for a link to the 2014 consumer survey results:

Cared For Enough To Be Involved - Client Participation Guide for Specialist Homelessness Services

One of the major achievements of the North and West Metropolitan Region LASN Client Feedback Group was the creation of a Client Participation Guide for Specialist Homelessness Services. Cared For Enough To Be Involved was informed by each of the preceding activities of the Client Feedback Group.

The purpose of the Client Participation Guide is to document and share good client participation practices that are currently in place across the region, and to assist homelessness services to achieve such practices, taking into account relevant practice settings and service standards.

The Value of Client Participation in Homelessness Services

The Value of Client Participation in Homelessness Services contains a list of practice principles for the effective involvement of clients in Homelessness service delivery.

Annual Consumer System Survey

Over the last two years over 400 people have participated in the North and West Local Area Service Network (N & W LASN) Annual Consumer System Survey (see the bottom for an explanation of the LASN).

The survey asks Consumers about their experience of the coordinated service system of which the agency you are now visiting is a part.

Consumer Feedback Survey 2015 Results

The 2015 survey took place over a 4 week period during September 2015 across most homelessness funded programs run by N & W LASN member agencies, and was also run in November 2012 and 2013 and September 2014. Each funded program was asked to offer the opportunity to participate to a minimum of five consumers, randomly chosen during the period. Each service program also committed to providing an interpreter to assist consumers to complete surveys as necessary.

Using the prescribed set of questions, consumers were offered two methods for completing the survey: 1.  Completed by consumers or their advocate directly into Survey Monkey (the preferred option) 2.    Completed by consumers in hard copy form and posted to the Researcher for entry

Access Points

An Access Point is a crisis housing service. It is where people who are homeless are asked to go. It is the ‘front door’ into what is called the Homeless Service System. There are a small number of these in each Department of Human Services (DHS) region. In this survey there were 6 Access Point services.

Support Providers

A Support Provider helps someone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness to get or keep housing. There are many services which provide support to homeless people in each DHS region. There are also many different types of these services and some work only with some types of people, for example young people or women and children. In this survey, 114 support programs were asked to offer consumers the opportunity to participate.



Consumer Feedback Survey 2014 Results

6 Access Point services and 118 Homelessness Support programs were asked to source five clients each to participate in the survey. 38 consumers of Access Point services participated (5.5 per service) and 138 consumers of Homelessness Support programs participated (1.2 per program)

• Consumer satisfaction was high:
o All consumers who needed an interpreter were offered one
o 85% of participants felt they were treated respectfully by the homelessness service assisting them
o 89% of participants said that their rights were explained to them by the service
o 89% of participants were happy with the amount of information that they had to provide to get the level of service they received.
o 96% of support service consumers felt that their support worker communicated well with the access point that referred them.
o 63% of participants said it was easy to find out about the access points and 32% said it was neither hard nor easy.

• Consumers would have liked more communication with the service system whilst they were awaiting support.

• 67% of participants said that they were asked the same questions by their support worker and the access point worker and 30% felt that this wasn’t necessary.
o There was quite a strong theme in the survey for improving the service system by enabling a transfer of information between homelessness services. 8 participants identified this as one way that services could work better to help people experiencing homelessness. This capacity does exist in SHIP but has not been activated.

• The most common reason participants contacted an access point was for housing, followed by help paying rent. Unexpectedly the third most common reason for accessing an access point was “someone to talk to and explain my problems”. In 2013 93% of people who wanted “someone to talk to and explain my problems” received that, whilst in 2014, this dropped to 27%.

• 11% of people who didn’t get what they wanted at an access point said that they weren’t told why.

• 29% of participants are reporting that the service system is too complicated.

• When asked how services could better work together to help people experiencing homelessness, 22 participants said they were happy with the service system and 14 responded that more housing is required. 9 responded that services could work better together.

Survey Results 2013

The latest survey was held in November 2013 and 180 people took part. The survey found that the services which make up the local service system are very good at:

  • Treating people with respect, explain their rights and providing them with an interpreter if they needed one (between 90 and 100% of respondents
  • Communicating with your other services: Communication between various services was also rated very highly (over 90% in most cases).

You also told us that the following things matter and need to be better:

  • We need to get better at explaining the system: Around half of all respondents said it is too complex.
  • We need to get better at paying attention to the information passed on by Access Points and not asking the same questions: Around half of all support respondents said that once they were picked up for support they had to answer the same questions they were asked at the Access Point.
  • We need to get better at keeping in touch with you while you are waiting for support: Only 60% of respondents said that they received any follow up while waiting for support.

How can we improve the homeless service system?

  • “It would be nice to get 1 support worker, not different people all the time.”
  • “More clarification regarding access points. Appointments at Access Points need to be easier to make and more available. More IAP workers needed.”
  • “The workers communicated well but there is not enough crisis accommodation, especially for families.”
  • “It would be better if I didn't have to repeat myself to my support worker when I have just told everything to the access point.”
  • “Joint meetings where a plan is written up for my care over the next year”

What will happen with this information?

The Consumer Feedback Working Group has prepared 6 reports based on the results of the survey and sent these to the services involved. We will be recommending to the North and West Local Area Service Network (LASN) that the areas we need to get better at are discussed and improvements are agreed to. We will also ask the LASN to report back to us how and when they plan to do this. We will then produce another poster which explains the next steps.

Want more information about the surveys?

The survey was created by the N & W LASN Consumer Feedback Working Group. We are made up of workers from member agencies, Council to Homeless Persons and (soon) consumers.

The next survey will be held in September 2014

NW LASN 2012 Annual Consumer Survey

During November 2012, 222 people from across the region participated in the first North West Local Area Service Network (LASN) Annual Consumer System Survey

  • 54 people came from Access Point Services
  • 168 people came from Support Services

The attached poster below contains feedback from the consultation in regards to what consumers said about the service system and what we do well. This includes ideas from consumers on how can we improve the homeless service system.

The LASN's will be running surveys again in a years’ time to see if we have done better and to reassess how consumers feel about the work we do!

Homelessness services in the North West region want to hear client's ideas about how they can provide better services. They have developed a Poster to promote a new database they are trailling and are encouraging clients to be involved. The database will be a list of people who have accessed homelessness services and want to help to improve them.

North & West Metropolitan Region Homelessness Service System

For information on the regional Homelessness Service System please visit the Opening Doors & the N&W Local Area Service Network section of the website.

Important Contact Details

Consumer Feedback Working Group: Call Cassandra Bawden, Convenor, 8415 6200

Homeless Advocacy Support Service: Call Angela Kyriakopoulos, 1800 066 256

Consumer Partiicipation Guide

Click here for a link to a Consumer Participation Resource Kit developed by HomeGround and Rural Housing Network.


During 2010 LASN members were asked to provide their client participation policies or tools to the Client Feedback Group. . This collation contributed to an understanding of the variety and efficacy of client participation strategies that are currently in operation across the region.

It was evident from this that a variety of strategies to involve clients in all levels of service provision are in operation across the region. It also appears that many homelessness services take a multifaceted approach to client participation, recognising that no strategy is purposeful for, or accessible to, all clients. However, the client focus groups suggested that whilst clients of the regional homelessness service system are keen to be involved in decisions affecting them, the organisations with which they work and the broader service system, opportunities to do so aren’t always accessible or meaningful.

It seems that the level of participation that is currently available to clients of homelessness services ranges from receiving information that encourages involvement to acting in partnership with other stakeholders. There are opportunities for the service system and individual homelessness services to increase the extent and effectiveness of client involvement strategies.

It is envisaged that this webpage will shortly host a large number of these documents as a resource to the sector in support of quality practice in the area of client participation.

Through the Client Feedback Group, regional homelessness services have also contributed to:

  • a case study project
  • six client focus groups
  • a workshop on Client Inclusive Practice and discussions with the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, the Council to Homeless Persons and Housing Sector Capacity Building, Department of Human Services.

The work of the Client Feedback Group has resulted in the creation two key documents

1. Cared For Enough To Be Involved - Client Participation Guide for Specialist Homelessness Services

2. The Value of Client Participation in Homelessness Services