Above: Glenn Bunney , spokesperson for LASA

By Keryn Curtis

The Australian aged care sector, in its broadest diversity, has a new national peak industry association.

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA, pronounced ‘laysah’), is the name of the new entity, formed by founding members, Aged and Community Care Victoria (ACCV), Aged Care Queensland (ACQ) and Aged Care Association Australia (ACAA), officially announced at lunctime today.

ACCV and ACQ have given notice of their resignation from Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) this morning, effective 1 July this year, as ACSA state members gathered for an ACSA General Meeting in Melbourne.

The new organisation will operate as a federated body with the national office headquartered in Canberra.  State offices will be formed under the names Leading Aged Services Australia Vic (LASA Vic) and LASA Qld, while LASA WA, LASA SA & NT, LASA NSW and LASA Tas will be established in time.  

Spokesperson for LASA, Mr Glenn Bunney, said it was an entirely new entity designed to meet the desire expressed by the majority of aged care providers today for an inclusive and unified representative voice.

“This is the industry association that service providers have been asking for – one that is inclusive of every service type.”

Mr Bunney said the ACSA Board was informed of the announcement of the new organisation last night, ahead of the formal resignation of ACCV and ACQ at the ACSA general meeting in Melbourne today.  A handful of key stakeholders were also informed yesterday.  

Despite the breadth and depth of the task of establishing an entire new peak industry association, it has been a remarkably well kept secret with only mild rumours of the move circulating outside the core group in recent weeks.

“Certainly the board members [of ACQ & ACCV] and a few individual members were involved in the planning but it was always a process and there was no guarantee of an outcome of that process.  

“All members will be advised today. All NACA stakeholders, the consumer peaks, unions and professional groups.  Really today is day one of a whole engagement process,” he said.

Mr Bunney said that while a single united voice for the aged care sector had long been discussed and debated, the real genesis of LASA came with the decision of the ACSA board on 8 February to overturn a previous commitment to move toward a merger with ACAA.

“The idea of a single national voice been around for a long time, even when I was president of ACSA but it was too early then. But it is a very different ACSA today.”

“A survey we have done within the industry showed that, among the not for profit members there was a three to one preference in favour of a unified national voice.  That was a fairly strong message,” Mr Bunney said.

A wide remit

In the offical statement issued at 1.30pm today, Valerie Lyons, President of ACCV, said it was a defining moment of a new era in national representation of the industry across Australia.  

She said the new organisation would be the only truly national and industry-wide peak organisation, providing the unified voice that the age services sector has been crying out for over the past decade.

“From day one, Leading Age Services Australia will represent and support all age service providers regardless of whether they are privately owned or not for profit, for the benefit of all older Australians.”

“Leading Age Services Australia will be the voice for all providers, including residential and community care, retirement living, housing and services for older Australians and will actively pursue special needs and interest issues including rural and remote services, indigenous, CALD clients, the homeless, mental health, disability and young people in nursing homes”, Valerie Lyons said.

More coming soon…

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12 Comments

  1. Congratulations on this move – Excellent Leadership. The next move must be initiating direct action if government fail to provide meaningful indexation, and initiate reforms recommended by the Productivity Commission in the 2012 federal budget

  2. An excellent move. We need one body consistently and constantly lobbying government to get a fair deal for aged care. This one body will put pressure on the government to move beyond reports and move towards action for our industry. Well done for making this happen!

  3. What fantastic news! Congratulations to all involved in this important development. And congratulations to the aged care industry and the people it represents. A united voice is so much more powerful. We are really pleased to have read such positive news.

  4. Congratulations to all involved. This is an important step and will lead over time to a united voice in aged care with ACSA becoming increasingly irrelevent and confined to the dust bin of history. Given the statements by the Treasurer on ABC Radio this morning, we must keep up the pressure. Evidently aged care will not be a addressed in this current term while the Govenrment “works through the matters raised by the Productivity Commission” and the Prime Minister has indicated that it is a matter for the second term of government. Given the polls and the precarious hold Labor has on government, we are in serious risk of getting nowhere. Getting a policy position out of the Opposition on anything is difficult, but LASA must keep up the pressure on both sides of the House.

  5. Great step forward and recognition that the industry must focus outwardly on its clients and leave the old paradigm behind. Congratulations.

  6. LASA need to define how and why they will be more effective than ACSA to provide confidence in the industry. Arguably the C/W Government avoidance strategy is easier to implement now by playing LASA off against ACSA while essential change is continually deferred.

  7. Isn’t it a lost opportunity that at least two states, namely Queensland & Victoria have been so focussed upon driving an agenda to restructure ACSA over the past 18 months, when all aged care providers should have been addressing the PC review and applying pressure upon the Federal Government to follow through with needed reforms? ACSA can now at least focus on the real serious aged care issues with the distractions created by the state organisations who stepped out of the timing of the band. So what do we have now? Still two peak bodies; one for the charitables and not for profits; and the other for for profits and anyone else who wishes to join? So how is this going to assist the clients of aged care providers?

  8. At last we are moving into an era where all stakeholders will be professionally represented.
    Cohesiveness is essential in the provision advice and assistance to care service providers who share the vision of “quality care for all”

  9. As reported in AAA 09/02/2012 ACSA & ACAA merger collapses – According to the statement, the Board has reaffirmed its commitment that, “given the urgency to focus on a once in a lifetime aged care reform opportunity, as well as the need to actively influence the emerging NFP environment – which includes the nascent establishment of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) – it would be focusing its full attention on the importance of these priorities to the not-for-profit sector.” To my reading that is not “focus on the real serious aged care issues” as stated by Fenwick. How will ACSA ensure that it is not distracted by the NFP reforms that are not related to aged care? Arn’t all aged care providers (for profit and not for profit) in the same boat. We all rely on substantial government funding to keep our businesses afloat, we all have to comply with the same legulatory regieme, the same accreditation standards, and we compete in the same employment market. Time for the not for profit aged care sector to stop kidding itself that it is special.

  10. I’m confused, as someone who cares deeply about aged care, is this a good thing! It reads like it is and it will create one body, but there seems to be an undercurrent that some orgs/people don’t want to play.
    Am I wrong? I hope so – as given Wayne Swan’s sobering thoughts this week about a tight budget, I fear aged care will lost out to the NDIS – who have a much tighter, clear voice with a united front!

    Do others agree?

    Thanks
    Dr Ralph Hampson
    Consultant in aged care
    rhampson@me.com

  11. After hearing Wayne Swan and Mark Butler at ACOSS this week speak about the welfare and non-profit sector’s importance to Australia I am convinced more than ever there is a clear dichotomy between commercial companies whose taxes on their profits fund government services and authentic operators of essential services for the community that deserve to have Government support to continue their work esp for people who live in regional areas or who cant afford competetive costs driven up by commercial market forces.
    There is a difference… ACSA is the voice for charities and NFP.

  12. Like Dr. Ralph Hampson I also care about aged care -both residential and community. Industry needs to focus on the things that matter, and get on with the job of outcomes for the business side of industry. Parties over the past few years have worked long and hard to arrive at a majority one voice approach to Government and the Australian community, and we now have this with Leading Age Services Australia. All Players in the field had the opportunity to become part of a one voice organisation. Congratulations to those who have made the leap of faith.My family have a long history of involvement in residential care in WA, and we have seen many changes within Associations. Leading Age Services Australia is where we all should have been a decade ago!!

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