The Community Engagement Committee (CEC) represents community members’ interests on various Wimmera Health Care Group (WHCG) improvement projects and initiatives.

They review and provide feedback on items such as the WHCG strategic plan and brochures.


The CEC has a responsibility to advise the WHCG Board on community views, so they are recognised and reflected in service delivery, planning and policy development. They are a voice for the community to comment or raise concerns and opportunities for improvement around the health service and the services WHCG offer.



MEET OUR COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT COMMITTEE

Click here for video

Ann Falkingham photo  Name: Ann Falkingham 

When did you join WHCG’s Community Engagement Committee (CEC)? 2016

Why did you join? I was asked to as there wasn't a member from Dimboola at the time.  I had just returned to live in Dimboola and happy to join the committee. I am interested in advocating for others.

What strengths do you bring to the committee? I have a long work history of working with vulnerable people including being an advocate.  I feel confident to learn, make enquires, question and to make suggestions. I am also interested to learn about our health service as my family and I are consumers of the services provided. 

What is the best part about being on the CEC? The Dimboola campus is isolated geographically from the main service hub. I like being able to hear the issues around accessing services and be the voice to get the best we can.

I also enjoy contributing to the development of policy and procedure’s, and along with the other members, ensuring the perspective of the consumer is heard and considered.

What does a successful health service look like to you? It seeks to understand the needs of the Wimmera Community, recruit the best Professional team, and provide targeted services where and when they are required. 

Contact: 0439 078 238

Bernie OShannessy Name: Bernadette O’Shannessy

When did you join WHCG’s Community Engagement Committee (CEC)? 2015

Why did you join? I had family members as patients at the WHCG and felt that patients and family needed more input into their care.

What strengths do you bring to the committee? Experience in disability, advocacy and mediation. The ability to see a project through to the end.

What is the best part about being on the CEC? Seeing steps put in place to ensure patients and families are listened to and included in care plans.

What does a successful health service look like to you? One where a holistic approach is taken with all parties listening to each other and working together to achieve a realistic health care plan.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Denise Hobson photo  Name: Denise Hobson

When did you join WHCG’s Community Engagement Committee (CEC)? Around March 2014

Why did you join? A friend who was currently on the Committee suggested I apply for a position. I took this opportunity as I believed I could contribute something of value to the community by becoming more involved in our hospital.

What strengths do you bring to the committee?

  • Insight from a consumer of health services perspective.
  • Experience from working in Government and Government semi-funded organisations.
  • Member of local community, spouse, daughter, parent and grandparent of patients and users of WHCG.
  • Personal family experience of numerous Aged Care facilities within the region.
  • Strong and genuine interest in improving outcomes for patients, whilst supporting the health services.
  • Analytical thinker.

What is the best part about being on the CEC? Gaining a better understanding of the constraints, issues and challenges of the health services and being in the position to consult, communicate, listen and share helpful information with the broader community.

What does a successful health service look like to you? To me, a successful health service is one which listens to the consumers and delivers the best possible care to the community, always with respect and within the legal and financial constraints placed upon them.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dino McMillan

Name: Dino McMillan

When did you join WHCG’s Community Engagement Committee (CEC)? March 2017

Why did you join? I was invited by a friend who was already on the committee and as I had very limited knowledge regarding our local health services I thought this was an opportunity to become better informed. I also am happy to represent others whatever their needs may be. Health of course is a huge priority.

What strengths do you bring to the committee? I have had a long association in the field of education and the roles I have played during that time have been varied. Compiling various documents, giving feedback on numerous topics, being able to communicate effectively to a diverse group of people, having a sense of humour but at the same time being aware of what is appropriate for certain people and situations.

What is the best part about being on the CEC? Meeting new people, learning about the services provided by WHCG, being able to tour various departments to gain a better understanding of what their work entails, being able to provide input at meetings and being an advocate for others.

What does a successful health service look like to you? It has a strong leadership team that others enjoy working with. Staff need to show that they are caring, even though at times this may be quite difficult to do. People need to feel confident when they come into the hospital that they will receive good care. Where there are concerns from patients or their families, that they are listened to and they receive appropriate feedback which is documented.

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Judy Ellis Name: Judy Ellis

When did you join WHCG’s Community Engagement Committee (CEC)?  Mid 2016

Why did you join?  We need a quality health service in the Wimmera and I am keen to be involved with being able to work towards improving that service.

What strengths do you bring to the committee?  As a user of the service myself, being a carer for my elderly parents and working in the private health field I am involved with many people who use this service.  I want to use that experience to improve health outcomes.

What is the best part about being on the CEC?  Observing and being able to contribute to the positive changes happening at the WHCG.

What does a successful health service look like to you?  Skilled committed caring staff in all areas of the service working together with people of the community to improve the health of all. Intervention that is respectful to needs, with good communication, provided in a timely and efficient way. 

Contact: Ph- 0419 899 924 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ken Dowsley photo Name: Ken Dowsley

When did you join WHCG’s Community Engagement Committee (CEC)? At the start of 2018

Why did you join? I was asked by board member Merryn Eagle as they wanted the residents to have a representative.

What strengths do you bring to the committee? As I am a current resident in the Wimmera Nursing Home I have an insider’s view of things. I can let them know about improvements that need to be made.

What is the best part about being on the CEC? I feel it’s an honour to have the responsibility of being the voice for the residents.

What does a successful health service look like to you? A place that is easy to access for everyone. And where patients have a forum to give feedback both positive and negative.

Paul OShannessy Name: Paul O’Shannessy

When did you join WHCG’s Community Engagement Committee (CEC)? 2017

Why did you join? I thought I might have some ideas to put forward from a patient’s perspective. I continue to be an outpatient in both rural and metropolitan health services and have seen good and bad in both.

What strengths do you bring to the committee? Experience as a patient honesty reliability ideas

What is the best part about being on the CEC? The feeling of giving back. Seeing your suggestions being put in place and working

What does a successful health service look like to you? Being able to provide an appropriate, all-encompassing service to the public in an efficient and caring manner

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

merryn Name: Merryn Eagle

When did you join WHCG’s Community Engagement Committee (CEC)? I joined the CEC in July 2017

Why did you join? I joined as a board representative to the CEC. I am particularly interested and enjoy engagement with our community and believe that it forms a vital part of what WHCG is all about. Without listening and acting on our community’s views and needs we cannot deliver the service that they want and assist in people’s health and wellbeing.  

What strengths do you bring to the committee? I think that my strengths are a keen interest and commitment to our community. I particularly enjoy governance and its role in overseeing a strong and viable organization.

What is the best part about being on the CEC? One of the best parts of being on the CEC is interacting with a really committed diverse group of people who also have sense of fun while at the same time understand their important role as community representatives.

What does a successful health service look like to you? A successful health service is always looking to improve the health and wellbeing of its community. It understands its legal responsibilities in terms of financial management and providing a safe and high-quality health service. It above all seeks to provide a person-centered model of care where the needs of the patient and resident are at the forefront of the care that it provides. 

Are you interested in joining the committee?

The Community Engagement Committee changed its name and realigned its focus and objectives in 2018.

One of the key changes was that the committee became a fully-fledged WHCG Board of Management sub-committee with a Board Director as Chair and two additional Board Directors as nominated representatives. Community representatives also have direct access to the Chief Executive Officer, the Quality Manager and two representatives from the Leadership Team.

The key objectives of the committee are to:

  • advise the WHCG Board on community views so that these are recognised and reflected in service delivery, planning and policy development
  • identify and advise the Board on priority areas and issues requiring community participation
  • participate in the WHCG strategic planning process; and
  • assist community members to access appropriate and timely support from the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or the appropriate team member and to comment, praise and / or raise concerns and opportunities for improvement.

Community Engagement Committee members are appointed for a period of two years and are supported with orientation and training to assist them in this role.

We are pleased to announce that applications are now open for the committee. Interested community members are welcome to contact any of the current committee members with questions.

All applicants need to complete the Community Member Expression of Interest form and return it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no later than 5 July 2019.

Applicants will be shortlisted and invited to attend an interview with committee members the week commencing 15 July 2019. Successful applicants will be notified no later than 26 July 2019 and will attend their first committee meeting on 14 August 2019, with an orientation session scheduled for 7 August 2019.

Community Engagement Committee Position Description

Community Member Expression of Interest Form

Community Engagement Committee Terms of Reference

Why join us? What the Community Engagement Committee achieves.

As members of the Wimmera community, our role is to ensure that the rural voice regarding our health services is always heard.  We will continue to work with groups like Safer Care Victoria (www.bettersafercare.vic.gov.au), which considers a range of health-related issues.                                                                                                                                                                      

Hysterectomy Working Group for the Grampians Region

A community representative / committee member who expressed interest in joining an additional committee is now the Wimmera representative on the Hysterectomy Working Group for the Grampians Region. The member contributes on behalf of the WHCG, participating in its activities and sharing in its outputs.                                                                                                                     

The member’s involvement has allowed us to review the information we share with our patients on this topic, ensuring that the latest evidenced-based information about contemporary practice is available to our community.

Verily Project

WHCG is involved in the Virtual Dementia Friendly Rural Communities (VERILY) project.

As Community Engagement Committee members we were involved in reviewing the information and the project’s “app” design. We are engaged as active participants and have undertaken training to support carers who look after persons living with dementia.

Bi-monthly tours of the health service

Committee members undertake bi-monthly tours of various WHCG departments and speak directly with patients, residents, visitors and team members about what we can do to improve the services provided. A report is then developed and presented to the committee and the WHCG Leadership Group to act on.

Key changes that we identified and contributed to actions on are:

  • providing an area in Oxley for family members of patients in ICU and a tea room for patients
  • the distance community members have to walk to the WHCG Pharmacy and the poor working conditions for the pharmacy team. This has resulted in the pharmacy area being identified as a priority for the WHCG master plan, along with a solution for community members with mobility concerns.
  • maps of WHCG’s acute campus for visitors trying to find their way to units or departments
  • increased parking spaces for people with disabilities and for visitors, close to the entrance door; and
  • Improved wheelchair access around the acute departments.

The committee members have also been an integral voice in the development of the strategic plan as well as the vision, purpose and values for WHCG. Committee members actively participated in the two planning days, reviewed the documents and improved them to ensure that the voice of the community was clear.