Strong Liveable West Coast

Reaching the quieter voices on the West Coast: A community-led approach to identify health needs: Phase One

Dr Suzie Waddingham is project lead for Strong, Liveable West Coast – a community-led project to improve health and healthcare services for people living on the West Coast.

Dr Waddingham teamed up with the West Coast Council and Health Consumers Tasmania to learn about the health priorities and services most important to the people living on the West Coast.
Strong, Liveable West Coast trains locals as Community Facilitators, where they learn how to host ‘Kitchen Table’ discussions with groups of people they know in a comfortable and familiar environment.

Understanding the health priorities and health service needs most important to the community can then lead to more effective strategies, healthcare policies, resourcing, and health service planning, and ultimately, better health for the West Coast community.

Why is this research important?

Typical assessments of community health needs often use surveys or forums, but these methods may not capture the perspectives of those who are harder to engage with, such as people with lower literacy levels or those more affected by social circumstances.

Tasmanian’s West Coast is an example of a community where many voices are not heard.

The Liveable Communities Advisory Committee and the West Coast Council wanted to trial a process to connect with those in the community who have not been included in past discussions about health needs.

These groups may include LGBTQIA+ individuals, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Cultural and Linguistically Diverse community members, those who live in rural areas, and older community members.

The approach

The study mainly involves collecting qualitative data, together with quantitative data such as general demographic, and locally collected information.

The project uses a participatory approach, where people in the community are actively involved in the research process and all literacy levels are accommodated.

The project team has trained Community Facilitators to lead discussions and gather information directly from groups of community members.

The next phase of the research is to transcribe and analyse the information gathered, create a report with health and healthcare service priorities and recommendations, and conduct a community forum to present the findings to the community for feedback.

Who will benefit from this research?

The recommendations will be directly informed from the findings of local community members. While participants may not receive direct benefits from phase 1 of the research, the findings may provide valuable information to prioritise and plan health services on the West Coast.

“This project is an excellent example of how important it is to incorporate consumer and community involvement in the research planning process. We’ve learned that patience, and working at the pace of the community is integral to ensuring everyone’s voice is heard.”

Project lead, Dr Suzie Waddingham


The community discussions, perspectives and voices will be used to compile a report, which includes interventions suggested by the community.

The Collaboration’s partners will work together to follow these suggestions and will evaluate their effectiveness.

The results of the project will be shared with the West Coast Liveable Community Advisory Committee, West Coast Council, Access to Health, and Collaboration partners.

Different ways of sharing the information, such as a report, manuscript, slide deck, infographics, and video, will be developed to reach diverse audiences.

Lastly, the project will help train community members to lead a Kitchen Table Discussion, which will help the West Coast Council address other issues that are important to the community.

There is interest from a number of funding sources in developing a Phase 2 to this research that would implement recommendations from Phase 1.

Next steps

The project team is finishing up the Kitchen Table discussions, gathering all the information, and sharing it back with the community facilitators and research team.

For more information on this project, please contact us