Above: Gerard Mansour, CEO, Aged and Community Care Victoria
By Keryn Curtis
The Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) board may believe it has successfully scuppered all hopes of a merger between the two peak aged care associations, but not everyone is taking it lying down.
While the Aged Care Association of Australia’s (ACAA) official language following its board directors meeting in Sydney last week was all polite disappointment about the ACSA board’s decision not to progress a merger of ACAA and ACSA to form a single national peak association, the CEO of Aged and Community Care Victoria (ACCV), Gerard Mansour, is putting his intentions on the record.
“We will keep pushing for it,” said Mr Mansour. “The ACSA Board has made a decision and we respect their right to make this decision. Now we will make our own decisions about where to from here. The board of ACCV is passionate and united in the view that we need a national organisation that speaks on behalf of all providers. The board of ACCV is passionate and united in the view that we need a national organisation that speaks on behalf of all providers.
“That’s the position we need, to get the best outcome for industry and we don’t resile from that position. Our members are equally strong, if not stronger in their resolve and we will want to find the best way forward,” he said.
However, Mr Mansour said now was a time for unity of voice across the entire industry, not the time to be focusing on differences.
“The absolute focus at the moment is aged care reform. While there has never been a more important time for a national industry voice for all providers - and this still remains paramount - now is a time for unity and standing together. We will talk with one voice on this issue. Nobody would want it any other way at this time.
“The PC reforms will dominate everyone’s thinking in the short term so we will take a step back and consider what is the next step in the journey,” he said.
Mr Mansour said he had not been at the ACSA board meeting where the decision to dump the merger plans was made and that he had ‘very little insight into what has happened’.
“What I can say is that ACCV and ACQ [Aged Care Queensland, which, like ACCV, is a a merged peak association at the state level] began the journey a while ago with the PricewaterhouseCoopers report. We invested in a document that began to tease out some of those issues.”
Mr Mansour said he was proud of the way ACCV, as the united voice in Victoria, continued to represent and support a broad membership including private, public sector, non-profit, and specialist providers operating a wide range of service and financial models.
“In terms of where we go from here, our strategic priority hasn’t changed – we publicised it very clearly in our strategic plan. It will take whatever time it takes,” he said.
“I’m not sure how much time will be involved but it is clear that our members have a strong view on this and I believe they have the same view in Queensland - that we need a strong national voice.”
Mr Mansour said his members saw the recent decision by the ACSA board as a ‘bump in the road’.
“But we don’t see it as a closed door. What unites us is more important than what divides us.”