Consumer Research & Evaluation Unit


The CREU represents a unique model sitting within a consumer created and led organisation. The Unit has a team of skilled personnel with experience and skills in research and evaluation techniques, however, the basis for their work and the creation and growth of the Unit is around their lived experience. The Unit advocates for consumer research as a new and emerging field where research is initiated, designed, controlled and conducted by consumers and whereby new methods and approaches are developed from a consumer perspective. This rights based, grass roots philosophy is posed as an alternative to academic research and seeks to add a different and complementary approach to the mental health sector.


The Consumer Research and Evaluation Unit sits within the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council or VMIAC. The Unit was established in 2006 with the commencement of a collaborative project (with Tandem Inc.)– MH ECO (Mental Health Experience Co-design). 


This Victorian Government funded project involves eight mental health services across Victoria and uses leading edge methods in consumer and carer involvement to work in partnership with services with a shared goal of improved services. This meaningful consumer and carer focused approach has gained national and international attention. This is just one of the projects that the CREU have been commissioned for by a range of service providers and peak bodies. It has provided the basis for the creation, growth and sustainability of an effective team of skilled personnel who have a personal experience of mental illness and work on research and evaluation activities in the mental health area.


The CREU is committed to promoting consumer participation in mental health service improvement and aims to become a national centre of consumer research and evaluation in mental health. The CREU is affiliated with the Centre for International Mental Health at The University of Melbourne.



The Consumer Research and Evaluation Unit won a Gold Award in The Mental Health Services Conference 20011 Achievement Awards. It was given in recognition of a unique research team where the strengths of lived experience and academic learning are inbuilt and reflected in advocacy for innovative and egalitarian approaches to mental health research. The Award was announced at the Annual Conference held this year in Adelaide, Australia. It was presented to CREU by The Federal Mental Health Minister.  


















Major skills and experience

Consumer involvement in research and evaluation is a contemporary advancement in mental health system reform and improvement, which contributes to building the knowledge of mental health with a consumer-centred approach.


Understanding the diversity of consumer perspectives is the strength of our team of consumer researchers. All members of the Unit are consumers with direct experience of mental health issues and with various qualifications and experience in research and evaluation.


We endeavour to provide valid, reliable and trustworthy research and evaluation findings with high ethical standards to ensure the quality of information through rigorous quantitative and/or qualitative methodologies.  


We believe that the processes of research and evaluation are just as important as the outcomes. We respect research participants and value their experience-based expertise.





Mr Wayne Weavell    Senior Project Officer

Dip App Science Medical Radiations, RMIT, 1977

Grad Dip Business (Management), Monash University, 1995

Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, 2010


Formally trained in medical radiography and business management, Wayne possesses significant knowledge and experience of the general health system from the viewpoint of working as a clinical staff member and manager within the health field. As a consumer, Wayne has significant lived experience of the mental health system and the issues facing mental health consumers.  

Wayne worked as an Information Officer at VMIAC for three years prior to joining the CREU in 2008 as a Senior Project Officer.


Tel: +61 3 9380 3900



List of publications

Co-design mental health services - providers, consumers and carers working together (2011). New Paradigm. The Australian Journal on Psychosocial Rehabilitation. Autumn Edition  


Consumers and Carers as Partners in Mental Health Research: Reflections on the Experience of Two Project Teams in Victoria, Australia (2011). International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. 20, 263-273.


Building a 'user driven' mental health system (2010) Advances in Mental Health. Volume 9. Issue 2. PP: 112 - 115. (pdf.)


Consumer participation in research (2010) New Paradigm. The Australian Journal on Psychosocial Rehabilitation. Autumn Edition.(pdf.)


Making the Right Moves (2009) New Paradigm. The Australian Journal on Psychosocial Rehabilitation. Winter Edition. (pdf.)


Victorian Mental Health Services Complaints Process Audit Report (2008) for the Victorian Mental Health Ministerial Advisory Committee – Consumer and Carer Subcommittee.


Evaluation Interim Report (2008) for CAN Mental Health. 


C&C Experience Report (2008) for the Department of Human Services.


Statewide Consumer Consultation Report (2007) for the Department of Human Services.  


Conference presentations

Lei Ning. Consumer Participation in Research and Evaluation. Consumer Advisory Group of the  Ballarat Health. 2010, Ballarat, Victoria.


Lei Ning. Consumer and Carer Involvement in Research and Evaluation. Queensland Voice - Consumer and Carer Symposium. 2010, Brisbane, Queensland.


Wayne Weavell, Rosemary Callander. MH ECO. The Mental Health Services Conference. 2010, Sydney.


Lei Ning. MH ECO. The National Mental Health Information Stratagies Subcommittee. 2010, Adelaide.


Lei Ning, Rosemary Callander. Consumer and carer involvement in research.  The National consumer and Carer Representative Register and National Consumer and Carer Forum Workshop 2010.


Lei Ning. Carer involvement in mental health. The Victorian Social Workers Association Conference 2010. 


Lei Ning. Consumer and carer experience of care and support. The Australian Society for Psychiatric Research Annual Conference 2009. ANU, Canberra.


Lei Ning. C&C Experience. The National Quality and Safety Partnership Subcommittee. 2009, Melbourne.


Lei Ning, Rosemary Callander and Project Team. C&C Experience. The Mental Health Services Conference, 2008, New Zealand.


Lei Ning. Making the right moves. Statewide Review of the Mental Health Act - Consultation Forum, Department of Human Services, 2008, Melbourne. 


Lei Ning, Anna Crowley and Project Team. Consumer and Carer Involvement in Research and Evaluation. Join the Dots… VICSERV,  2008, Melbourne. 


Lei Ning, Rosemary Callander and Project Team. Consumer and Carer Experience Research and Evaluation Project. World Psychiatry Association Conference, 2007, Melbourne.


Lei Ning, Anna Crowley and Project Team. Consumer and Carer Led Evaluation Project. The Territory Conference, 2007, Melbourne.


Lei Ning, Anna Crowley & Project Team. Involving consumers with C&C Project. Exploring the

Mental Health Services Conference, 2007, Melbourne.


Lei Ning, Anna Crowley & Project Team. C&C Project. Participatory in Health Conference, 2006, Melbourne.



Current and past projects undertaken by the CREU

A summary of projects is included in the table below:



Code of conduct

Code of Conduct .pdf






© 2010-2014 Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council and Tandem Inc.