Paying consumers

Financial acknowledgement for consumer representation is accepted as best practice and many health consumer organisations across Australia recommend remuneration for any meaningful contribution. Standard practice is to cover all out-of-pocket expenses. Sitting fees for committee membership or hourly rate remuneration can be offered dependent on level of engagement.

Formalise the association

For any financial arrangement, an agreement should be in place and explained prior to the commencement. Some consumers may prefer not to be reimbursed or paid for their time for altruistic purposes - and this is their choice. The offer can be made and recorded as declined... and extended again at a later time. From a consumer perspective, the individual is responsible for declaring any non-reimbursement payments as income. From an organisation perspective, review your own policies or procedures and apply what is relevant to a non-staff member... but who may not be regarded as a volunteer. The distinction is important. 

It is important for all consumers to be remunerated at equivalent rates for the same tasks and contribution across an organisation. 

Reimbursement

Out-of-pocket expenses include public transport costs, private transport and parking expenses, training costs, accommodation and other incidental costs. Claims for the use of private cars is calculated in accordance with the Australian Taxation Office Claiming motor vehicle expenses as a sole trader – cents per kilometre policy.

Sitting fees and hourly rate remuneration

A review was conducted to support the development of a VCCC cost model to ensure alignment with standard practice within the sector. 

The sector review of national health and government organisations, including the Victorian statutory bodies Safer Care Victoria and Health Issues Centre, revealed variance in payment schemes and quantum. 

The VCCC-developed cost model aligns with the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Appointment and Remuneration Guidelines (referenced by Safer Care Victoria), using the upper limit on Schedule C: Classification criteria and remuneration schedule - Group C organisations (Section 3a) for advisory bodies to departments. 

The VCCC cost model will be implemented in 2020 and contains a defined payment schedule correlating with specific levels of engagement to maintain consistency across projects and programs. Aligning with the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Appointment and Remuneration Guidelines (as specified by Safer Care Victoria), the VCCC cost model corresponds with the five-tiered levels of consumer participation outlined in the VCCC Model of Consumer Engagement: 

Consumer-led
Sitting fees applied for Advisory Committees

Partnership
Sitting fees applied for Steering Committees and Working Groups

Involving
Hourly rate remuneration for speaking engagements and reviewer roles

Consulting
Hourly rate remuneration for consultation activities

Informing
No payment made for consumers who attend symposia and other events