Voice At The Table

Levels of Participation: Which Level Are You On?

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“I would love to see a person with a disability working alongside every single politician. I just think it would be a better world”

Colin Hiscoe, Reinforce Self Advocacy Group



Consumer participation occurs at different levels within organisations. The following table is a useful tool which can be used to measure and reflect on the different levels of participation within your organisation.

Levels of Participation. Full Control. Consumers handle the entire job of planning, policy making and managing a service, project or programme, e.g. Disabled Persons Organisations. Delegation. Consumers hold majority of seats on committees with delegated powers to make decisions. Partnership. Planning and decision-making responsibilities are shared e.g. through joint committees. Advisory. Organisation presents a plan and invites some feedback. Prepared to modify plan only if absolutely necessary. Consultation. Consumers are consulted through surveys and forums feedback is considered but they have no power to influence decisions. Information. Consumers receive information about an organisation’s plans but have no input, e.g. consumer participation policies, use of volunteers, etc. None. Consumers told nothing. Adapted from Sherry Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation developed in 1969


The following table appears in the Queensland University of Technology’s Developing Your Organisation (2006) and provides real life examples of how different degrees of consumer participation relates to the work of your organisation on all levels of work.

This table is adapted from a consumer participation project undertaken by the Women's Hospital in South Australia. It maps examples of what consumer participation looks like in action from consumer control to information-giving only. It gives examples for each level of participation for individual workers, service or program, and organisation or management level.

Source: Queensland University of Technology, 2006, Developing Your Organisation

Next Page: Consumer Reps, Our Rights Our Voice

Chapter 1. Understand Consumer Participation

Quote Icon 1.1: Why Consumer Participation Matters to services, Governments and community organisations
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Quote Icon 1.2: Why Consumer Participation Matters to People with Cognitive Disabilities
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Quote Icon 1.3: Consumer Participation in Action
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Quote Icon 1.4: Levels of Participation: Which Level Are You On?
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Quote Icon 1.5: Consumer Reps: Our Voice Our Rights
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