Top: Barbara Squires
Above: Rod Young
By Keryn Curtis
Community based-seniors lifestyle and care provider, IRT has signaled a substantial expansion of its research and advocacy capacity, with the announcement of two well-known senior appointments and a broadened sphere of work.
Former General Manager, Ageing for the Benevolent Society, Barbara Squires, will lead the new Research and Advocacy department for IRT, commencing in May, while Aged Care Association of Australia (ACAA) CEO, Rod Young, will join the new department as a policy officer following his scheduled departure from the ACAA role at the end of June.
IRT Chief Executive, Nieves Murray, said the new department would take in the existing IRT Research Foundation, established in 2009, but would be expanded to include advocacy, policy development and community engagement.
“The IRT Research Foundation was established over two years ago with a strategic plan to invest a proportion of IRT’s EBITDA earnings into research.”
“Research is an integral part of fulfilling our purpose. Now have that we have had a substantial EBITDA result, we are able to properly to invest in our research and advocacy capacity, hence the expansions and the need to needed to appoint a dedicated team.”
“Barbara will be heading up this new department from May, but will also be working on a number of projects for IRT, including leading the community engagement program for the new IRT Howard Court expansion and development,” Ms Murray said.
Ms Murray said Barbara Squires was well known across the aged care sector for her work as General Manager, Ageing at The Benevolent Society and for her many commitments to organisations advocating on behalf of seniors.
“She has been a long-time advocate of service models which enhance the independence of seniors and ensure seniors maintain autonomy, regardless of the individual choices made in regards to aged care,” Ms Murray said.
Ms Murray joked that Rod Young would be the ‘agent provocateur’ for the organisation.
“Rod will be working within the new team to ensure our long-term policy commitments and the regional needs of seniors are a part of policy discussion at all levels of government,” Ms Murray said.
“Rod’s role is not just in relation to the Commonwealth. IRT is active in a number of advocacy issues with different levels of government. For example, we are currently involved in trying to influence councils in implementing the WHO ‘age friendly cities’ program,” she said.
Above: Nieves Murray
Ms Murray said the expansions and new roles marked a significant investment for IRT, illustrating the organisation’s ongoing commitment to research and advocacy in aged care.
“We see this function as central to our purpose, as an organisation that was established to meet the needs and interests of older people,” said Ms Murray.
“We were established for that purpose. We have done a lot of work around the establishment of IRT and remembering what those founders wanted. And that vision is about consumers and connecting with what older Australians are saying and influencing change based on that.
“In my opinion, if community organisations aren’t investing in changing the fabric of society and the way that seniors can thrive in our communities, then what is our purpose?
“It’s much more than just providing services. Anyone can do that. It’s about being active in advocating and influencing social change.”
Ms Murray said while the sector had generally been successful in recent years in influencing change, particularly within the existing aged care paradigm, there was a need to work harder at identifying the gaps for consumers and influencing the development of new paradigms.
“The growth in advocacy has been exponential recently with NACA [National Aged Care Alliance] and the consumer voice is really beginning to come through. We are listening to consumers and responding as best we can within the current paradigm but we need to play a bigger role in identifying those gaps for consumers and developing ways to respond to them that may be outside current models and current ways of thinking.”
In addition to the appointments of Barbara Squires and Rod Young, IRT has appointed Natasha Debsieh, who will be the Foundation Officer for the IRT Research Foundation; while Tracy Spark has been appointed Community Relations Officer.