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Aged care needs to re-think young leadership initiatives: peer network


Young professionals and industry veterans are collaborating to tackle the long-standing issue of aged care sector support for aspiring leaders.

The aged care industry is failing to attract enough young people to work in the sector as that proportion of the workforce has remained largely static in recent years. And new initiatives are needed if the sector’s future leaders are to be nurtured and supported.

Samantha Bowen

That’s according to Samantha Bowen, a young aged care professional and founder of the Acorn Network, an organisation established to support young leaders in aged care.

“With fewer than one in five aged care workers currently aged under 35, more needs to be done to build a supportive environment that helps young professionals working in the sector reach their full potential,” she told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Ms Bowen said that since the Acorn Network was founded she had been contacted by interested young people working in a range of roles in the sector – including nurses, young entrepreneurs, business owners, lawyers, accountants, allied health professionals, architects and designers.

It was incumbent on the sector had to increase its public profile, showcase the diversity of job roles, and improve access to industry leaders, she said.

Many graduates were put off entering aged care because of poor public perceptions of the sector, with many believing other areas of the health sector offered them better professional opportunities.

Ms Bowen is bringing together young professionals and current leaders to discuss the young leadership challenge at a series of forums to be held in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth next month.

She said the events aimed to identify ways that aged care providers, and the broader sector, could establish programs and initiatives that support aspiring leaders.

The events will hear from current industry leaders including Cynthia Payne, CEO of SummitCare, Illana Halliday, CEO of Aged and Community Services NSW & ACT, Louise Forster, executive manger business development of Care Options Incorporated, and Justine Colyer, CEO of Rise Network.

The executives will discuss their leadership paths and the lessons to be learned from their experiences.

“The tickets [for each forum] are limited to 30 people as we’re trying to create a very intimate environment for engaging and interactive discussions about what leadership looks like and how career paths are different for everyone,” said Ms Bowen.

“To be a leader in this industry you need to have passion and good support around you. We want to facilitate that support network,” she said.

The forums take place in Melbourne (6 September), Sydney (13 September) and Perth (28 September).

More information is available on the Acorn Network website

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