Anne Burgess appointed Council of Elders chair

Anne Burgess has been appointed as the new chair of the Council of Elders for a period of two years.

Experienced board leader and social justice advocate Anne Burgess has been appointed as the new chair of the Council of Elders for a period of two years, Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells has announced this week.

The council – which held its first meeting in February 2022 – was announced in October 2021 in response to a key recommendation of the royal commission to provide advice on behalf of older people to the government about aged care reform.

Ms Burgess has more than 40 years’ experience leading initiatives and organisations focused on social justice, with previous roles including director of the Office for Women and Acting Commissioner at the Equal Opportunity Commission in South Australia.

She is a member of the COTA Australia National Policy Council, the current COTA SA deputy president and the chair of the SA policy council. She has also been an Older Persons Advocacy Network board director for more than five years. Ms Burgess is also chair of the Aged Rights Advocacy Service SA and a member of the governing board of the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network.

In announcing the appointment in a statement on Monday, Ms Wells said Ms Burgess’ role was part of the government’s ongoing agenda to ensure older peoples’ needs were front and centre as it reformed aged care.

“The Council of Elders plays a critical role in ensuring the diverse views and perspectives of older people are heard by the government throughout the reform process. I look forward to working closely with Anne Burgess and the Aged Care Council of Elders as we continue to reform aged care,” said Ms Wells.

While originally known as the Council of Elders, the government is now referring to it as the Aged Care Council of Elders.

Ms Burgess said she was proud to take on the role of chair.

“I am committed to working with council members and the government to ensure the rights and dignity of older people from all walks of life are protected in our future aged care system,” she said in a statement.

Ms Burgess replaces Ian Yates, who chaired his last Council of Elders meeting on 25 January. He then resigned from all government advisory appointments later that day ahead of commencing as Interim Inspector-General on 29 January.

Ms Wells also took to Twitter to reiterate her thanks to Mr Yates for his work as the previous chair of the Council of Elders. “Ian brought substantial experience to the role, which he is now using as the Interim Inspector-General of Aged Care,” Ms Wells wrote on Twitter.

Consumer peaks welcome Burgess to the role

Advocacy and consumer representative organisations COTA Australia and OPAN have welcomed Ms Burgess’ appointment citing her vast experience and knowledge of the aged care sector including through her work with the National Aged Care Alliance.

Patricia Sparrow

“Having someone like Anne in the important role of chair of the council is good news for everyone, particularly older Australians,” said COTA Australia chief executive Patricia Sparrow.

“We know that aged care reform in particular is a hot issue at the moment, with some in the sector trying to slow it down, so having a strong voice at the helm of the Council of the Elders is vital.”

Ms Sparrow said it was also great to have a woman in the role of chair at this time as some of the key issues impacting older women need particular focus.

Craig Gear

OPAN chief executive officer Craig Gear echoed the value that Ms Burgess would bring to the role.

“A passionate advocate for the rights of older people, Anne brings decades’ worth of experience to this role,” he said.

“With her skills in policy development, strategic planning and community engagement, Anne is the perfect person to lead us through this period of significant change and to oversee the development of a new Aged Care Act that actively addresses older people’s basic human rights.”

A full list of Council of Elders members and further information on the role of the council is available online.

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Tags: anika wells, anne burgess, council of elders, craig gear, ian yates, patricia sparrow,

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