Creating a stronger nation-wide presence for aged care advocacy, individuals and service providers is the top priority of the first chief of the Older Persons Advocacy Network, he tells Australian Ageing Agenda.
OPAN has appointed Lewis Kaplan as CEO of the newly formed entity, which began delivering services under the National Aged Care Advocacy Program’s new national framework in July (read that story here).
Mr Kaplan’s previous experience includes CEO of Diabetes Australia, Red Cross NSW and Alzheimer’s Australia NSW as well as executive director of Council on the Ageing NSW.
Mr Kaplan said his top priority was to create a stronger national presence for aged care advocacy, for individuals, families and carers, and also for service providers, which empowered older people to access their human rights through information, education and individual advocacy.
“This work will translate into national systems advocacy, creating a consolidated set of policy issues, which we will communicate to governments, peak bodies and others from the strength and experience of OPAN’s members,” Mr Kaplan told Australian Ageing Agenda.
“Another priority for OPAN is to help drive the national, and again this means nation-wide, elder abuse agenda forward,” he said.
He said OPAN was heartened by recent government commitments aimed at addressing elder abuse.
When announcing the appointment last week, OPAN chairperson Craig Gear said the organisation would benefit from Mr Kaplan’s strong familiarity with national service delivery.
“Mr Kaplan brings a deep understanding of aged care, ageing, community services, primary health care, public health and social policy across government and non-government sectors,” Mr Gear said.
Mr Kaplan will help OPAN’s members navigate and lead important changes underway to ensure the rights of older people were linked to the recent aged care reforms, Mr Gear said.
Mr Kaplan said OPAN’s national footprint including in regional and remote communities meant it was well placed to advocate for those who were “most vulnerable and who would otherwise not have a voice in the aged care system.”
OPAN is made up of the nine state-based agencies that provide advocacy services for the National Aged Care Advocacy program.
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