This article briefly describes recent initiatives to improve consumer participation in health services that have led to the establishment of the National Resource Centre for Consumer Participation in Health. The results of a component of the needs assessment undertaken by the newly established Centre are presented. They provide a 'snapshot' of the types of feedback and participation processes mainly being utilised by Australian health services at the different levels of seeking information, information sharing and consultation, partnership, delegated power and consumer control. They also allow identification of the organisational commitment made by Australian health services to support a more coordinated approach to community and consumer feedback and participation at different levels of health services such as particular emphasis on determining the presence of community and consumer participation in key organisational statements, specific consumer policies and plans, identifiable leadership, inclusion into job descriptions, allocation of resources, and staff development and consumer training. Discussion centres around four key observations and some of the key perceived external barriers.