Don’t let Fabian Galbraith’s beard and tattoos fool you – Fabian spends some of his spare time as a Westmead Hospital consumer representative.
A consumer representative is someone who lives in the local area, is passionate about the future of healthcare and speaks up about change at the hospital.
Before strict social distancing measures were implemented, Westmead Hospital hosted a tour for more than 20 consumer representatives who want to give back to their local hospital and community.
The group continues to support WSLHD through COVID-19 using virtual technologies.
Fabian decided to become a consumer representative after his personal battle with drugs, alcohol and mental health issues.
“I wanted to give back to the health system that had helped me for so long,” he said.
“I wanted to turn this around and get involved and see how my opinion matters.”
The 33 year-old Merrylands resident was also a carer for his grandmother for four years.
“It was challenging as we later found out she had two undiagnosed illnesses. She’d think she was fine but I’d return home to find she had fallen over,” Fabian said.
“I have empathy and understanding that she was no longer able to do things she had always done, but I didn’t know where to look for help.
“Being a consumer representative is empowering because it gives people like me a voice about improvements around the hospital and gives us a chance to help others.”
Fabian’s self-confessed punk rocker attitude didn’t stop him from wanting to help people.
“Advocacy really helped and I was able to use my voice. If you want to do something really rewarding, become a consumer representative and have a say about what’s important for the future,” he said.
Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Community and Consumer Partnership manager Dr Coralie Wales appreciates any amount of time people can give to volunteer.
“Consumer representatives advise on all kinds of matters, from how to improve hospital forms and signage right through how to services.
“They are also volunteers who have conversations with patients in the language of their choice to find out what matters to them.
“We meet often and at the moment we are using video conferencing technologies. This means that people no longer have to attend face-to-face meetings. We meet online.
“We are looking for community representatives for two new Community Councils – one that is focused on the local Westmead area and one on the Blacktown and Mount Druitt local area. I hope you can join us!”
Free training is provided to new consumer representatives and are supported by other experienced peers.
For information about becoming a consumer representative contact, WSLHD Community and Consumer Partnerships officer Tara Lee on 0437 874 244 or firstname.lastname@example.org